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Rothbury North Beat Forest Plan

Plan approved 2014 - 2024

About

The North Rothbury Beat is made up of 6 separate woodlands (listed below) totalling 541 hectares. As the woodlands logically group together, a single design plan was drawn up allowing the management of each individual woodland to be set in the wider context of the area. Ownership of the woodlands with the exception of Trickley is freehold, though reservation of sporting and/or mineral rights are present.

Name  Ownership status Area (ha)
Wooler Common Freehold 81
Trickley Leasehold 48
Hepburn Freehold 100
Haugherslaw Freehold 25
Quarryhouse Freehold 126
 Ros Hill Freehold 161

 

The crops within Ros Hill, Quarryhouse and Haughterslaw are first rotation conifer plantations which are at or nearing maturity. Due to instability of these sites there is little potential to manage under silvicultural systems other than clearfelling. However this does not negate their value for producing timber. Hepburn is a Plantation on an Ancient Woodland Site (PAWs). Trickley and Wooler Common are on more stable sites and therefore thinning is possible allowing for the production of larger diameter products. Where clearfelling is proposed this is undertaken as close to the economic felling age as practical, unless other objectives (landscape conservation etc.) or crop inspection require otherwise.

All the woodlands contain some features of archaeological interest. Scheduled ancient monuments are present in Ros Hill, Trickley and Wooler Common, all of which are covered by individual management plans. The site at Wooler Common is located outside the woodland, and therefore has little impact on the wooded area.

The small SSSI of Quarry house Moor Ponds has been subsumed in a the more recent much larger SSSI of Bewick and Beanley Moors, which now abuts or covers the open ground on the edges and in between  Hepburn, Haugherslaw, Quarryhouse and Ros Hill. No other statutory conservation designations are present within the woodlands. Hepburn Wood is listed as an Ancient Replanted Woodland site in Natural Englands register of ancient woodlands, and slow conversion to native species is therefore appropriate through selective thinning. Sites with a county SNCI designation are present on the open ground within, and adjacent to Wooler Common, and adjacent to Hepburn wood and Ross Hill. Chillingham is a grade II listed park and gardens

None of the woodlands in themselves form major features within the wider landscape, though they are locally significant. The woodlands fall within the Cheviot fringe and Northumberland Sandstone Hills Landscape Character Areas.

Both Wooler Common and Hepburn Wood have significant local recreational value with public car parking facilities available. Wooler Common has a ‘friends’ group who are important to the development and maintenance of Wooler Common, and in reflection of the woodland importance to the local community it was designated as a Woodland Park in the summer of 2000.

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Objectives

Our aim is to create more diverse and resilient woodlands, with a greater range of species and habitats appropriate to their individual status. The objectives of management are:

Economic

  • Maximise the value of sustainable timber production by felling, thinning and restocking with productive mixtures and species best suited to the soils, and by thinning windfirm stands.
  • Increase the area managed under continuous cover management where possible.

Environmental

  • Restructure the forests through phased felling and restocking and open space management to increase the value of the woodlands for wildlife.
  • Increase the extent of mixed broadleaved woodland and restore PAW’s areas.

Social

  • Improve the external attractiveness of the woodlands through restructuring and choice of species and silvicultural systems.
  • Consideration to public access during all forest operations.

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What we'll do

 The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2024.

Felling Proposals

 The likelihood of windthrow limits the ability to retain crops on the higher elevation exposed sites (Ross Hill, Quarry House and Haughterslaw), where economic rotation length is constrained by the probability of windthrow. It is proposed at Hepburn to convert the wood to native broadleaved species through selective thinning.

The area proposed for clearfelling within the plan is:

2012-2016 23%
2017-2021 20%
2022-2026 17%
2027-2031 3%

In addition 1 % of the area has been allocated to minimal intervention and 20% to constant cover.

Restocking

The restocking proportions identified within the plan are:

Larch  5% 
 Broadleaves 8%
 Conversion to native woodland 14%
 Sitka spruce 27%
 Other conifer 33%
 Mixed woodland 13%

The intention is to convert the whole of the ancient semi-natural woodland of Hepburn wood (18% of the plan area) back to native species.

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Last updated: 28th April 2018

Location

OS Grid ref: NT980272

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.