Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales
4 Planning woodland management
Priorities and considerations
The focus for management within any woodland will depend on many considerations. The process of planning management starts with establishing what the priorities are for the woodland and woodland owner. There are likely to be biodiversity, commercial, social, recreational and increasingly climatic considerations to be addressed. The focus here is management for priority birds and the key area and distribution maps presented in the species accounts in Part 3 should be used when identifying bird priorities. Essentially, good design should aim to achieve a full range of successional growth stages over time, and provide the requirements of target priority species.
One overarching consideration is to ensure the long-term viability of the woodland. One of the more difficult aspects of woodland management planning is the time span between establishment and maturity; it can be difficult to decide on immediate action when a woodland ecosystem can function over hundreds of years. Another fundamental consideration is that it may seldom be possible to provide all that is required continuously within a single woodland block. Providing for a species both spatially and temporally may well require a landscape-scale approach involving many woodland blocks.
An understanding of the distribution, quantity and quality of conservation features is necessary for good decision- making. As part of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) process, priority woodland habitats have been identified (see Chapter 2) and management should aim to maintain or improve these habitats. Some woodlands will be designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) or Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and consent for any management will be required from the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), involvement of CCW staff at an early stage is essential in such cases. The process of producing a woodland management plan allows the manager to
evaluate the resource, set and integrate objectives for biodiversity, economic and public benefit, and identify the methods of management to deliver these.
Woodland management plan production and operational guidance is covered in the UK Forestry Standard; The Government’s Approach to Sustainable Forestry (currently under revision) which sets out criteria and standards for the sustainable management of all forests and woodlands in the UK and the indicators by which these criteria can be assessed. Guidance is also provided by the United Kingdom Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS) (see Appendix 2) and Better Woodlands for Wales5 (see Appendix 1), these should be referred to when producing a woodland management plan to ensure compatibility. The Forestry Commission Forests and Biodiversity Guidelines also provide essential information and further references. See www.forestry.gov.uk/wales.
A standard plan will include the following elements (UKWAS20066)
a long-term policy for the woodland
assessment of relevant aspects of the woodland resource
identification of any special characteristics and sensitivities of the woodland and appropriate treatments
set and prioritise objectives
rationale for management prescriptions
outline planned felling and regeneration over a 20-year period
rationale for the operational techniques to be used
plans for implementation, first five years in detail
plans to monitor progress against objectives
specific measures to maintain or enhance biodiversity.
6 www.ukwas.org.uk/assets/documents/ UKWAS%20Second%20Edition%20Web.pdf