Forestry Commission logo

Timber Operations

Frequently Asked Questions

A John Deere 1470D wheeled harvester in operation in a stand of Scots pine.
Q.  Why are branches left on the ground looking a mess?


A.  The Forestry Commission does clear up the 'brash' left behind after tree felling from main access paths but otherwise it is left for practical economic reasons. From a conservation point of view, it is important to leave brash on the ground to provide habitat areas for woodland creatures and also to allow the nutrients locked up in the branches to decay back into the soil.

Q.  Why isn't timber felling only carried out when the ground is dry enough to prevent any damage?

A.  Timber operations are carefully planned to take into account a number of factors including ground conditions and public accessibility at different times of the year. Ideally, wetter areas are felled in the drier months, but this is not always possible, as other factors must be considered. It is the responsibility of the Forestry Commission staff to undertake an Operational Site Assessment (OSA) before starting any timber operation.

This details the work to be undertaken and considers the likely impact on wildlife, heritage and recreation in the area. Measures are taken to mitigate potentially adverse impacts. For instance, if it is a popular recreation site, public safety must be considered. Likewise, felling must be postponed if protected birds are nesting.

Q.  Why don't you repair the damage to the tracks immediately?

A.  We aim to reinstate the grass rides as soon as possible after work is completed, but this is sometimes delayed due to weather conditions or availability of machinery. Gravel tracks can be in use by heavy timber lorries for several weeks or months after the trees have been felled and extracted to the roadside. The repair of any damaged tracks is delayed until after this time to avoid repeated damage occurring.

Last updated: 7th July 2018

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