Thinning Programme: Update

Tarmac commenced their thinning works at the end of September and the works are due to be completed by the end of November 2012. The thinning works have been focused on the pine section of the wood and there are no proposals to carry out any further thinning across their part of the wood under the current licence which expires in 2017. 

The work that has been done has been based on ensuring that the trees that are retained have a clear canopy relative to other neighbouring trees which gives added light to the wood floor.The wood floor has been affected by the tracks of the heavy vehicles that have had to be used due to the ground conditions and there are large amounts of wood debris. While the overall appearance is unkempt over the next few years natural regeneration and timber decay should provide an improved habitat for wildlife.

As for the MoD`s proposed works the Friends have been informed that any proposed harvesting and thinning works on their part of the Wood have been postponed until their Regional Head Forester is satisfied that the works will be in the long term interest of the woodland, and part of an agreed long term woodland management plan. The Regional Head Forester has agreed to meet the Friends Committee prior to any decisions being taken.

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12,000 trees to be felled

The Friends of Hopwas Wood have been notified that some 12000 trees are to be felled as part of a woodland thinning programme.

The Committee were informed by Tarmac on 16th July that they had applied for a Felling Licence from the Forestry Commission for thinning works throughout their part of the Wood, commencing late August/early September. Having contacted the Forestry Commission we have been informed that a Licence was issued on 24th July, for a period of 5 years. The Licence indicates that up to 4415 trees are to be removed. Having raised our concerns with Tarmac it appears that this represents around 10% of the trees in their ownership and will relate to removal of the younger trees in order to allow others to mature. In addition a Licence has also been issued to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for thinning works in their area of ownership including forest wide ride widening to re-establish vehicular access. The Licence indicates that up to 7769 trees may be removed.

Our particular concerns have been raised with the MoD regarding the extent of the felling in the section of Wood bordering the canal from Wood Bridge northwards where up to 5000 trees are proposed to be removed. We are awaiting confirmation of what this represents as a percentage of the total number of trees in this area.

In addition we understand that if protected natural habitats are affected it will be the responsibility of the felling contractors to ensure that the appropriate legislation is complied with.

The Committee recognise that the responsibility for controlling felling in the Wood rests with the Forestry Commission in accordance with Government policy and as they have issued the Licences, Tarmac and the MoD do have a legal right to carry out felling in accordance with those Licences. There is no statutory requirement for the Commission to consult anyone, particularly when it relates to thinning and if we had not been informed by Tarmac we would not have been aware until the works commenced. The Committee have made a number of other interested parties aware of the situation and will continue to keep a watching brief.

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