Our region of England - the Sussex Weald - is one of the most densely wooded in the country and about 12% of Knepp is woodland.  This does not take into account the thousands of trees on field edges.  Like most rural estates we have planted new woods in recent years and enjoy the challenges of their establishment.

When forestry was a thriving rural enterprise the estate employed several foresters, converting trees into timber for building & firewood etc, and winning awards for the meticulous management that goes into growing quality timber.

However, since then the economics of the industry have collapsed, and as long as the country continues to import cheap timber from abroad rather than support its own industry, the situation looks as though it can only worsen.

Consequently, in August 2002, we felt compelled to make the estate foresters redundant and, probably for the first time ever, there is now no one employed in forestry on the estate and very little woodland management being carried out.

Some sporadic management is still undertaken - in 2003 we negotiated with the Forestry Authority and West Sussex County Council to bring some neglected coppice woodland back into rotation and as part of our parkland restoration we have been opening up vistas and removing commercial species in the Pleasure Grounds - an arboretum that was partially underplanted in the 1960's with notofagus and larch.

In 2006 we carried out a major silvicultural thinning of the estate's conifers, felling over 1000 tonnes of low grade softwoods and poplars.  Click here for full details of this operation.

Woodland rides continue to be maintained by the local hunt so that they can access the woods, and with the regeneration of shooting on the estate our woods are being visited and managed for wildlife. 

Butterflies are particularly abundant in our woods (see Butterflies) and this has much to do with the positive conservation work carried out by the former head forester, the late Chris Wagstaff.  32 of the 43 species commonly recorded in Sussex have been noted at Knepp, although two of these - purple emperor and dark green fritillary - have only been recorded once in the last 20 years.  The main habitats for butterflies in the park area are Spring Wood, Spring Wood Pond, Charlwood and the Pleasure Grounds.

From an estate policy point of view, leaving dead trees standing rather than converting them to timber fits with our conservation objectives, however continued thinning in some of the woods will be required to maintain ground flora and the biodiversity within the woods, and these are likely to be uneconomic operations.

Details of the forestry works 2006






Early Purple Orchids in grazed woodland

Early Purple Orchid


Many of the Knepp woods have Bluebells an indicator of ancient woodland

Wild Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)