forestry works 2006
Forestry Works 2006 - Silvicultural Notes     

The estate’s woods were last "commercially" thinned in 1999, when most of the conifers were thinned for silvicultural reasons.  At that time, the estate employed a forester, Peter Bellamy, who maintained the woods and produced a certain amount of timber.  Since his departure in 2002, very little management has taken place, and we were keen that again the softwoods should receive a gentle thinning for silvicultural reasons.  Therefore during the first half of 2006, the estate engaged Tilhill to carry out some forestry operations in some of the estates woods.   

The majority of the work was carried out by a harvesting gang using a mechanised harvester, two forwarders, a skidder and a bulldozer.  It was a frightening amount of machinery but the whole operation was uneconomic as it was without trying to fund it by hand cutting and less destructive means of timber extraction. 

Tillhill removed over 1000 tonnes of timber, half of which only netted 50p/tonne as chipwood!  We hope that by the next time the woods need thinning, a viable market in perhaps woodfuel will have emerged for low-grade thinnings. 

We left standing dead trees as habitat for wildlife where they posed no danger to public rights of way, and the lop & top to mulch on the forest floor. 

Greenstreet - This wood on the outskirts of Shipley is divided into two compartments.  The “top” half is pure Corsican pine which we thinned by about 30%, avoiding the hobby’s nest, and taking down four hazardous trees adjacent to the public footpath.  This is probably the last thin this wood will need until final clear fell in maybe 10 years time, if that is the method of forestry selected at that time. 

Church Wood North - In the heart of the village, we were keen to remove the artificial looking Scots pine planted in a line adjacent to Kings Platt field, and also the large pines overhanging the high voltage lines and the edge of Shipley village for safety reasons.  We did receive a call asking us not to chop down all the pines, as the nightingales sing from them.  We hope that they continue to do so. 

Church Wood South - Here we thinned by hand by gently re-spacing, as the trees were not of sufficient size to use a machine.  One day this should make a nice wood and hopefully we removed enough trees to allow some sunshine to the forest floor this time around.

Whitehall Wood - Opposite the Countryman pub, again we re-spaced this wood by hand rather than mechanically. 

Hammer Lag Poplars - Here we felled all of the poplars, originally planted to make Bryant & May matchsticks.  The poplars were not doing well, but had reached maturity.  Unfortunately their market had completely disappeared so they were worthless.  We also felt that they were unsightly (albeit striking), and non-native.  We intend to replant with native black poplar and a suitable riverside native mix as recommended by the Sussex Floodplain Forests Group. 

Swallows Furzefield - A sweet chestnut wood originally planted with three rows of Scots pine surrounding it which looked very artificial.  We felled the majority of the pines, leaving the odd clump for the buzzards to nest in.

Great Cockshill Wood - Behind our estate Woodyard, a part of the wood to the east of the main ride is a Scots pine plantation which received a 30% thin.  

Little Cockshills Wood - In the heart of Pondtail Farm, we removed a block of Norway spruce in the middle to allow the area to naturally regenerate and thinned the remaining Corsican pine.  The spruce was not doing well - the site was obviously not suitable and it was very dense and suppressing all of the undergrowth.

Alder Copse - We coppiced an area of mixed hardwoods to allow new coppice to grow, leaving the few remaining poplars to act as a bit of a nurse crop for the few straggly oaks and the coppice stools left behind.  The theory being that the poplars will not cast too much of a shadow on the up and coming crop.  The truth is we forgot to fell the poplars when the contractors were on site!  We also thinned an area of Corsican pine elsewhere in the wood, and removed about 70% of the poplars between Alder Copse and Hartsgravel woods.

Hartsgravel Wood - We scrubbed out about one acre of rhododendron within this wood.

Bar Cover Furzefield West - Conifers, mostly Scots pine thinned to final crop.

Bar Cover Furzefield South & Coates Wood - The spruce and pine were thinned all the way down through the wood from the pylons to Buck Barn.

Coates Furzefield - This is a lovely wood that was replanted after the 1987 storm & since then the wood has become home to an amazing display of wild daffodils.  Charlie also saw a Common or Viviparous Lizard by the pond this summer.  Here we thinned the wood by hand, gently re-spacing the trees and scalloping the rides.

The Nursery - This 20 year old plantation adjacent to the A272 has never been thinned.  We took out every forth row by machine to make it accessible, and then gave it a selective thinning by hand.

Pondtail Rew - This poplar was about 36 years old, - Pete Butcher can remember it being planted.  The site was obviously perfect as it produced a perfect crop of worthless timber which will be used to make fruit boxes and pallets.  We had been trying to find a market for the timber for some time, and did get excited a few years ago by a coffin maker who used poplar, however the site was so tricky that felling costs again made the crop unviable.  The aim here is to let the alder & willow to naturally regenerate to naturalise the tail of the Kneppmill pond.

Hillhouse Plantation - We thinned the main block of Scots pine by about 30% and removed all the pine on the western side of the track adjacent to the power lines.  On the east side of the track, we thinned reasonably heavily up to Hillhouse farmhouse – this is a younger plantation and was its first thin.

Rookery - This wood, planted when Charlie was born in 1962, is being managed for autumn colours and so we thinned out an equal amount of both larch and beech.  This should not only allow the crowns of the trees to mature, but also should allow more light onto the forest floor to enable the ground flora to prosper. 

Pleasure Grounds - This Victorian arboretum was underplanted during Sir Walter’s time with nothofagus (southern beech), Norway spruce, larch and thuja.  Our plan is to selectively remove the majority of these trees until we ultimately restore the arboretum to some of its former glory.  This time we left clumps of the young trees for further thinning to final stem in the future. 

Merrik Wood - Situated in the heart of the deer park, but mostly fenced from the grazing animals, the eastern side of the wood has had the hazel coppiced and about 20 large oaks felled to allow light to encourage the coppice to re-grow.  On the western side of the wood we cleared out the Scots pine and the poplar in the wood, both of which were doing badly.  What is left behind in this half of the wood is a bit of a jungle of mixed hardwoods which should start to self-thin over time.

Woods in Centre of A24 – Bar Cover Furzefield East - A surprisingly lovely mixed-age wood surrounded by dual carriageway.  It cost over £3000 just to extract the timber that we cut from this wood due to the traffic management that had to be put in place.  The main purpose for tackling this plantation was to deal with the mature pines that had been dying adjacent to the A24.  We took down all within striking distance of the road, and thinned the rest of wood, using an arboriculturalist to advise which other roadside trees should be removed.  Such a pity about the location of this wood.

Loders Wood - Situated on Hooklands Lane, half of this wood is a pine plantation which we thinned about 30 – 40% of the Corsican and Scots pine to assist with the natural regeneration of the under storey.  What’s left is a very nice stand of pine that in 10 years will be ready for final cropping. 

Renches Wood - Situated north of the A272 near Dragons Green, we thinned a small number of mature Corsican pines out of the eastern compartment.

With the conifers now thinned, we are considering an operation to harvest some of the estate's wonderful oaks to supply timber for a building program co-sponsored by DEFRA.  7 sets of traditional farm buildings are to be restored over the next ten years, and our hope is to use timber felled from the estate.





mechanised harvester in the Rookery
clearing rhododendron in Hartsgravel
leaving dead trees standing when not endangering the public
part of the Tillhill team cutting the 36 year old poplar at Pondtail
poplar going off to be made into strawberry boxes
dormice survey - very sadly none were found  
Barcover Furzefield after thinning - lots of light for the hazel coppice
growth rings showing the age of the Pondtail poplars
last line of poplars along the A272 - we had to put in traffic lights when cutting these huge trees
part of the halo thinning of the Pleasure Grounds is to free up some of the large old limes and oaks and allow them to once again spread there limbs