UKTC Archive

Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from development - GOV.UK

Subject: Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from development - GOV.UK
From: "Rod Leslie"
Date: Dec 05 2017 16:52:06
Interesting thoughts, Edmund and Bill.

I'd agree (and I think its generally accepted) that the impacts of the great storms have almost always been less negative than traditionally portrayed, and actually beneficial in a lot of ways. Particularly valuable for Arb Officers and the intractable problems you face with generational transition.

I'd emphasise very strongly that I don't think everything should be managed all the time - or even ever. Its simply a question of balance - and nearly 1/2 England's woodland is far, far too much, especially as this is neglect rather than considered non -intervention.

In FC we had a standard approach to native woodland SSSIs which broadly assumed some intensive (coppice) management, some managed high forest and some non-intervention - the FC bit of Leigh Woods next to Bristol where I live is a good and - I hope ! - successful example.

Thinking about your-cliff edge wood, I fear (and I don't know if its a problem) FC non-intervention did have a habit of being a function of slope - the really steep bits that were hard to get to ! There is no doubt Ladypark is a good example ! Also, if you have already got some natural disruption in your wood it may be a good case for non-intervention - its the closed canopy woods, and especially stood over coppice, which are going to go on the same way for years and years and years that are the real loss.

Yes, Rodney and I have both challenged NT management, but its a bit like punching a cushion. The cessation of management was after John, under David Russell, who i don't think supported it (it was just about money) but had to sell it, which he did rather too well, unintentionally encouraging others to go the same way.

Your comments about extraction damage are important - one of the really big issues in woodland conservation is professional capacity - lack of knowledge and experience which makes wardens nervous of doing anything, and with some justification - contractors will take advantage and it may take a professional harvester to plan difficult sites. Its amazing what is possible - the harvesting of Owston Wood SSSI, removing Cypress from a PAWS - comes to mind - the managers used a lot of the conifer wood as corduroy road and it worked really well - as demonstrated by the odd bits where they didn't, which were 1m deep rutted. Well managed big, modern machines should do less damage than smaller farm-based gear. Their ground pressure is way lower, despite the scary look - but they are usually used where high volumes have to come out and the comparison to smaller scale operations isn't fair. There was a continuous debate in FC over the two alternatives of travelling a lot of routes a few times with widespread but limited damage, or concentrating damage on a more limited number of key routes. One consolation - which doesn't help much with the public, I admit - is that the idea traditional extraction did little damage is complete rubbish - I remember an older colleague describing a big Oak felling in the New Forest when he'd just started where the ground damage was so bad the horses could almost get under the gate without opening it !

Rod

-----Original Message----- From: Bill Anderson
Sent: Friday, December 01, 2017 10:17 AM
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from development - GOV.UK

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The situations I find myself engaged with mean I've pointed out to various
clients and Planning Officers, that DED had some positive consequences in
Sheffield's woodlands, not least because it arrived sort of 20 years after
the storms of 1962 (or was it 63?) that also cleared areas of woodland
which naturally regenerated.

I agree with your comments about extraction damage Edmund; somehow we need
to instigate some sort of middle way of dealing with these problems. Small
scale interventions feel ineffective, large machinery just causes too much
damage. And we might need to sometimes ride roughshod over public opinion,
Jo and Joanna's understanding of what needs to be done is frequently
lacking.

On 1 December 2017 at 09:16, Edmund Hopkins <
Edmund.Hopkins@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.gov.uk> wrote:

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Morning Rod

  I did not realise the NT had abandoned woodland management in the 90's,
was that after John Workman retired? I do remember an RFS whole society
meeting in Workman Woods where Rodney Helliwell delivered a broadside about
the simplified silviculture that NT had adopted there, and its adverse
consequences, and that will have been in the 90's or noughties. I haven't
followed the activities of the WT really at all.

I think the main appeal of non intervention for me is where the cost of,
or damage caused by, extraction, outweighs the advantages of felling. But
by the same token, if we are going to intervene then the benefits should be
demonstrable. Our local ancient woodland, Colwick Woods, has not been
actively managed in any silvicultural sense since well before it passed to
the Nottingham Corporation in around 1925. It has been high forest with
unscheduled gaps for a very long time but in the absence of records neither
me nor any one else can delve into how species and diversity has come and
gone. The last mega event was Dutch Elm disease, and plenty of big Elms
were felled out in the 1970's, but we still have White letter Hairstreaks
using the root sucker regrowth that persists. It's a similar size to Lady
Park Wood, and has a similar wooded cliff, but there the resemblance ends:
its Oak is of assumed planted origin and Sycamore has followed Elm. Its
appearance of "naturalness", with snags fallen trees, an irregular canopy
and the absence of chainsaw activity is highly valued by locals and
visitors. This may indeed be more correctly "future naturalness" but it
contrasts with the recreational appearance of other places.

Edmund

Edmund Hopkins
Tree Officer
Heritage and Urban Design
City Planning
0115 XXXXXXX

-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info [mailto:uktc-request@lists.
tree-care.info] On Behalf Of "Rod Leslie"
Sent: 30 November 2017 18:14
To: UK Tree Care <uktc@xxxxxx.tree-care.info>
Subject: Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from
development - GOV.UK

______________________________________________________________________
Dear Edmund,

Couldn't agree more with your comment about planting - it makes me grit my
teeth and you see it all the time. Empty tubes are the evidence that
'someone is doing something' - frequently planting up that bit of open
space that is crucial to the functioning of the wood as a whole, and the
last refuge of some of its most valuable wildlife.

BUT as big, big  examples, in the early 90s NT gave upo woodland
management on cost grounds and has never really got back to where it should
be, and for a while WT followed suit, claiming as you say that woods can
just be left alone - but they never answered questions about what happened
to the wildlife.

You are right that woods will just go on if left (though 'use it or lose
it does apply' - Derek Niemann gives a very good account of the largely
forgotten - but massive & total - loss of AW to farming after 1945) - but
in what way - we have a whole generation of even gaged, neglected woodland
and that neglect isn't without consequence: it is wiping out a whole swathe
of early-succession wildlife which won't be there to colonise the gaps in
maybe
100 years time.  There is also, often forgotten by science-oriented
foresters - the cultural dimension - 1,000 + years of human history
disappearing, and the immediate effect on human enjoyment - woods darkening
and becoming unattractive to visitors.

What option you select is ultimately a matter of choice: and choosing to
do nothing is a valid choice, as long as you understand the consequences,
good and bad, and are ready to live with them. At the moment we have quite
a few conservation bodies complaining bitterly about the loss of
biodiversity, universally agreed to be down to loss of traditional
management, yet not even managing their own nature reserves for the
biodiversity they value, let alone encouraging others.

When you get to the end of Lady Park you'll see George's comments - and I
suspect they've been sharpened by one particular case, Glos WT Lower Woods,
about whose meadows he recently wrote in British Wildlife, and which is a
sad example of a stood over coppice nature reserve.

All the best,

Rod


-----Original Message-----
From: Edmund Hopkins
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2017 8:45 AM
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from
development - GOV.UK

______________________________________________________________________

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  towards keeping the UKTC going too!

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______________________________________________________________________

Morning Rod

Well you've astonished me because I've never met a conservationist who
wanted to do nothing! On the contrary they often do things that are
eventually or even immediately futile, like planting Oak in tubes into
woodland shade. It's funny, I have a background in woodland intervention
but as I've aged I've increasingly questioned whether the stated outcomes
are achieved. This certainly applies to conservation management like
reversing or arresting succession but I've also become sceptical about the
silviculture we practice in lowland woods. Still we always hope for the
best when we mark a thinning.

I'm halfway through the book about Lady Park Wood and find it completely
compelling even though I tend to lose track a bit. It is an account of
dynamics that go on in the absence of human intervention, albeit in a
historic context of management. It seems to be that woods thin themselves,
events have far reaching impacts, and the species distribution is never
quite what the surveyors anticipated. So woods take care of themselves just
fine.

On the other hand I'm bound to admit that taking a chainsaw to trees in a
wood replaces shade with light and breaks up structure which benefits
biodiversity and brings income or at least cash flow to the owner's pocket.
And when I posted I'd completely forgotten about Rhododendron!

Edmund Hopkins
Tree Officer
Heritage and Urban Design
City Planning
0115 XXXXXXX


-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info [mailto:uktc-request@lists.
tree-care.info] On Behalf Of "Rod Leslie"
Sent: 29 November 2017 16:39
To: UK Tree Care <uktc@xxxxxx.tree-care.info>
Subject: Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from
development - GOV.UK

A very interesting exchange.

Whilst destroying ancient woodland is a huge - and final - problem, the c
500,000 ha of unmanaged woodland in England of which perhaps 200,000 are
ancient is probably one of the biggest  conservation challenges alongside
agricultural intensification.

There's a bias within conservation to doing nothing - because it takes no
effort and if you do nothing, surely you can't be doing any harm ? Which
for woodland is generally untrue: the things we value about AW are the
result of the intimate relationship between human & natural processes -
thus the semi-natural. They have been created by generations of management.
Whilst not purely natural, this interaction has produced something unique
and of value - think Nightingale, Dormouse, Bluebells. Doing nothing does
not -re-create the natural - at best it moves towards what George Peterken
has called 'future natural', and in the meantime many English woods are in
the in between state where closing canopies have eliminated light and much
of what we value in these woods.

Lady Park is a long-term experiment to see what happens - and it isn't all
bad news, because structural diversity, gaps and light return rather
quicker than you might think.

The concern over tree root damage to archaeology is a serious one amongst
the archaeological community, but equally poorly planned forest operations
are an equal concern - expertise is vital to avoiding damage. New
techniques like LIDAR help.

The idea that you can compensate for destroying an AW by planting simply
shows a total ignorance of what an AW is, and similarly resorting to
planting as a first rather than last resort ( natural regeneration,
including coppicing being preferred, and reflecting historic management) is
not a good thing.

Roderick Leslie

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Anderson
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 2:01 PM
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from
development - GOV.UK

I'm not particularly thinking of planting-type management Edmund, more the
control of invasives. Rhodo, Portuguese and Cherry Laurel are rampant in
lots of bits of urban woodland and it's invariably these bits that really
need some sort of edge-management that's a bit better than crown-raising
every few years. To my shame I'm not familiar with Lady Park Wood, but I
think the walk-away idea is probably only reasonable in large areas of
woodland, remote from neighbours.

I've been out on some woodland visits with Ian Rotherham, who emphasises
the importance of SNAW archaeology. I can't help worrying about how some of
the unmanaged trees in these woodlands are actually going to cause damage
to his archaeology, especially if they fall over by the roots. Not that
felling and extracting is actually going to be damage free of course.

But you're probably right about the resilience to neglect in larger
woodlands in rural locations, my urban bias skews my judgement. I do note
that it seems whenever I pick up the Forestry Journal that there's always
someone bleating about a lack of management, but they've got their own
biases I suppose.

Bill.

On 29 November 2017 at 13:41, Edmund Hopkins <
Edmund.Hopkins@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.gov.uk> wrote:

> I disagree, Bill, woodland is resilient to neglect. The Peterken
> Mountford book about Lady Park Wood surely attests this conclusively.
> I do accept that lowland plantations need thinning, but if they were
> established on a woodland site the chances are something natural will
> take over sooner or later if you just close the gate and walk away.
> https://www.cabi.org/bookshop/book/97817XXXXXXXX
>
> The replacement value of planting is invariably overstated by fellers.
>
> Edmund
>
> Edmund Hopkins
> Tree Officer
> Heritage and Urban Design
> City Planning
> 0115 XXXXXXX
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: uktc-request@xxxxxx.tree-care.info [mailto:uktc-request@lists.
> tree-care.info] On Behalf Of Bill Anderson
> Sent: 29 November 2017 12:44
> To: UK Tree Care <uktc@xxxxxx.tree-care.info>
> Subject: Re: Ancient woodland and veteran trees: protecting them from
> development - GOV.UK
>
> To return to the thread title, I'm reading (or trying to, it's not
> easy-reading) Rethinking Ancient Woodland, that I got from Treesource.
> It's quite useful in making me rethink some of my basic presumptions.
> That said none of this alters the fact that most woodlands SNAW PAWS
> and even recent plantations are un-managed or undermanaged, which
> might be more of a problem than HS2 digging them up.
>
> I find it somewhat annoying that the HS2/Government's defensive
> position is still all about planting when really getting to grips with
> the lack of management might be more important in the greater scheme
> of things.
>
> This email is security checked and subject to the disclaimer on > web-page:
> http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/privacy-statement This message has
> been scanned by Exchange Online Protection.
>
>
>
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