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Woodland Management - Commercial

The first few years after planting are critical to growing strong trees, and getting the maintenance work right during this period will give you an established woodland that requires minimal ongoing work.

The main aims of young woodland maintenance are:

  • Controlling weeds
  • Protecting against wildlife damage
  • Replacing losses

Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) funding for woodland creation includes annual maintenance payments for the first 5 years. These payments are intended to help get the woodland successfully established and details can be found here. This means the trees are healthy and in a condition that they can continue to grow without further weed control, at the stocking density required by the contract.

The main aims of managing mature woodland:

  • Thinning to favour trees with better form
  • Considering Low Impact Silvicultural System (LISS) options



Once your crop is mature and is out of contract it is advisable to carry out a first or 'rack' thinning.  First thinning would normally take place at around 20 years.  This is where approximately 20% of the volume of timber is removed by a harvester.  This is where either 1 in 5 or 2 in 10 rows are removed.

Following first thinning subsequent 'matrix' thinning is carried whereby the harvester travels down existing 'racks' and removes trees with poorer form.

Traditionally a commercial crop will be clear-felled at around 40 years.  There is scope to manage your woodland under a Low Impact Silvicultural System such as Continuous Cover Forestry.  Managing a crop using CCF can help avoid restocking obligations as the site is never clear-felled.  It is important to note that mature crops may not be suited to CCF as the crop must be managed with this in mind from a younger age.

Assuming that your crop is managed traditionally and is clear-felled you will be legally obliged to re-stock an equivalent area.  It is also imperative that felling permission is in place before any harvesting takes place.

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