Forest management plans are the key reference documents for monitoring and assessing forests and forestry practice in the UK. They define and communicate forest and woodland management proposals, set out how sustainable forest management is to be achieved and describe the consequences of management activities over time. Further detail on the requirements for forest management plans can be found in the UK Forestry Standard (in the sections dealing with General forestry practice) and from individual country websites. Guidance for planners in England can be found in the UKFS for planners document.
Forest management planning involves assembling and integrating a wide range of information about a site and its potential, and a number of established design techniques are available to assist with this process. The Forestry Commission Practice Guide 'Design techniques for forest management planning' provides step-by-step guidance to the techniques that can be used at each of the seven planning stages. The guidance applies to both the creation of new forests and woodlands and the management of existing forests and woodlands.
The Practice Guide is supported by a number of worked examples that show the development of the forest management planning process for typical landscape types found across the UK. The landscapes in these examples vary in scale and they serve to illustrate appropriate design techniques for different landscape types, as far as the development of the final sketch design:
- Urban and community woodlands
Small new community woodland on the edge of an urban area
- Mixed agricultural and estate landscapes
Medium-sized new woodland of native species on a gently rolling agricultural landscape Small to medium-scale predominantly broadleaved woodland in a rolling, enclosed landscape
- Forests in flat or undulating landscapes
Medium-scale predominantly conifer forest in a flat landscape
- Forests on rolling hills
Medium-scale new mixed conifer and broadleaved forest on a prominent slope and mainly stable soils Medium-scale predominantly coniferous forest on a prominent slope and mainly stable soils approaching the time of felling and replanting
- Forests in upland hill and plateau landscapes
Large-scale coniferous forest on a plateau of high windthrow risk
- Forests in mountainous landscapes
New native forest on a steep mountainside Felling and replanting of a conifer forest in a mountainous landscape
While the above landscapes are fictitious, they serve as useful examples because they allow a wide range of aspects to be considered that might be difficult to find in a real forest or woodland project. They focus on larger-scale examples (illustrated from a single viewpoint) in situations where a forest management plan would be needed.