When a stand of trees has reached maturity and has been clear-felled, there are a number of options for the site.
In some cases the site will just be left to colonise naturally and, over time, will develop into a mix of trees and open spaces. On other sites, we may choose to restock the site by planting conifers or broadleaves.
Often the ground must first be cleared after harvesting using machines to heap and burn the debris. Then, when the plants are dormant during the winter months, the ground is planted at a density of 2,500 trees per hectare (1,000 trees per acre).
For the ensuing five years these areas will be managed to safeguard the young trees from damage by wildlife and competition from other vegetation. In its management of these areas the Forestry Commission carefully considers whether fences are required to exclude deer or commoning stock and the use of any chemicals is kept to a minimum.
Overall there is a planned increase in the area of broadleaved woodland, but the change will be slow as the transformation will largely occur through the gradual thinning out of trees to favour one species of tree over another. Natural regeneration of young trees is increasingly being used in favour of clear felling and replanting.
Where our plans indicate that cleared sites will be restored to other habitats, principally heathland, areas will be cleared of harvesting debris, levelled where necessary and the site left to colonise naturally with heather and other heathland plants.