The Forestry Commission manages 1295 hectares of woodland on the Isle of Wight. Of this 766 hectares are held under a freehold and 529 hectares under a leasehold arrangement. The island is renowned for its scenic beauty and diverse landscapes. It is home to a population of red squirrels thanks to its separation from the mainland by a body of water. The Isle of Wight has a mild maritime climate and is contains many areas of ancient woodland.
The woods are popular with locals and tourists alike, and attract dog walkers, ramblers and cyclists in particular. Some areas are also used for organised events such as orienteering, while Sol Training is permitted to use the training area and wood at Bouldnor Forest for outdoor activities with groups including schools, corporate businesses and clubs. Woods such as Brightstone are particularly popular with tourists who use the forest to access views of the Southern coastline and the English Channel.
The woodlands on the island contain 17 Scheduled Monuments, 5 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA), a Ramsar sites and the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Among the Scheduled Monuments is a WWII gun emplacement in Bouldnor Forest with accompanying out-buildings called Bouldnor Battery. The battery was a two gun emplacement which remained in service until 1956 when it was dismantled. The area of the battery is closed to the public for safety reasons.
The objectives of management here are to:
• Restructure the even aged woodlands to provide continuity of habitat for the red squirrel and a more diverse woodland structure.
• Maintain larger areas of minimal intervention and deadwood habitats than in other strategic zones (in context with the size of the woodlands).
• Promote recreation in the forest and improve facilities to attract a wider user group, including families and tourists.
• Ensure the woodlands remain in active management by supporting local markets whilst attracting mainland customers.
• Rejuvenate all areas designated as Planted Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) by minimising the presence of non-native species.
• Bring all SSSI’s into a ‘Favourable’ or ‘Unfavourable Recovering’ Condition by 2010.
Approval has been granted for the operations to run from April 2007 until March 2017. During this time 94 hectares of Conifer trees will be felled, 23 hectares will be replanted or allowed to naturally regenerate with Broadleaf trees and 18 hectares planted or allowed to naturally regenerate with Conifer trees. 53 hectares of land will be devoted to open space and 78 hectares of Broadleaves will be felled then allowed to naturally regenerate. While 554 hectares will be managed under a Low Impact Silvicultural System, 41 hectares under a Coppice System, 232 hectares managed by limited intervention and 67 hectares of open space continue to be managed.
The list below shows the structure of the wood as it was in 2005 and the target structure of the wood for 2050.
Structure in 2005:
Other Broadleaf Species: 14
Corsican/Scots Pine: 18
Lawson Cypress/Red Cedar/Western Hemlock: 7
Other Conifer species: 7
Permanent & Temporary Open Space: 6
Target Structure by 2050:
Native Broadleaf Species: 28
Other Broadleaf Species: 4
Native Broadleaved Wood Pasture: 8
Squirrel Reserve Conifer Pasture: 1
Sweet Chestnut & Hazel Coppice with Standards: 6
Managed Edge Habitat: 1
Squirrel Reserve Mixed high Forest: 13
Open (including agriculture): 10