The Arley Wood, 42 hectares is an ancient woodland site that lies just north of the M6 between Birmingham and Coventry. It once formed part of the old Warwickshire Forest Plan that was written for 4 woodlands that were part of the old West Midlands Forest District. The management objectives for Arley wood have not changed, just the district it is managed under. Please be aware when you read through this plan some of the text will refer to Hay, May and Weston and Waverley Woods which were part of the old plan area.
The main objectives for Arley Wood is the continued production of commercial timber and maintaining biodiversity whilst the gradual reversion back to broadleaves takes place on the former ancient woodland sites.
The current conifer stands were planted between 1962 and 1970 and Corsican pine is the dominant species. This is now been badly effected by Dothistroma needle blight, a pathogen that gradually weakens the tree, significantly reducing timber yields and it can also eventually lead to tree mortality.
Arley Wood contains the only known Red wood ant community in Warwickshire and specific management objectives for these have been outlined within the Warwickshire Species Action Plan. Specific measures will be introduced to help maintain the appropriate habitat conditions which will include the continuity of needle litter around nest sites.
The main objectives for the Arley Forest Plan are:
• Continue production of commercial conifers and broadleaves.
• Introduce a mixture of continuous cover management systems.
• Utilize natural regeneration to help diversify future stand structure and species diversity
• Make the economic potential of the forest more resilient in
the face of a changing climate, pests and diseases.
• Maintain existing provision for informal recreation throughout the woodland.
• Restore PAWs site back to broadleaved woodland.
• Manage Wood ant sites and associated habitats sensitively.
• Retain in perpetuity the Trees of Special Interest and increase the deadwood resources throughout the FP area.
The plan details approved management operations including felling and restocking for the ten years to 2021, with outline proposals for a 50 year period.
The current threat to the primary conifer species in Arley wood will influence the timing and scale of felling operations. Group felling will take place around ants nests to create adequate conditions for an understory of wide spaced conifers to be planted creating a new source of needle litter. Existing broadleaved stands will be managed through continuous cover systems to provide a continuity of high forest and increase the deadwood habitat.
The planned areas of clearfelling, restocking and permanent open space creation during the ten years to 2021 are summarised in the table below.
In addition to these defined operations, ongoing thinning and selective felling of both conifers and broadleaves will be carried out in the plan area at five to ten year intervals.
The proportions of conifer and broadleaf woodland and open space at the beginning of the plan period are shown in the bar chart. The gradual reduction of conifer planting and increase in broadleaf regeneration expected within the plan period and over time is indicated in the middle and right hand columns of the chart.