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Plate 15 Piled brash provides useful nesting habitat without compromising the ground layer.

Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

Deadwood piles

  • Where possible leave deadwood where it lies on the ground. If some needs to be moved, eg for operational reasons, the deadwood, brash or logs can be placed into discrete, relatively low piles where they can be left to rot.

  • Leave few air gaps to retain humidity. This is easily achieved by stacking brash or logs end to end, and by cutting into the piles to compress them.

Maintaining deadwood

It is important that deadwood continues to be generated, either through positive management or through natural processes, as a balanced proportion of woodland cover. In practice in commercially managed woodland, including coppice, it is likely that deadwood will continue to be provided during long-term management, eg by selecting and creating it during each operational event. However, if possible, selected areas should be put into non- intervention, conservation management or long rotation management, where deadwood will eventually become a part of the natural functioning of the wood. If over-stood coppice is left to develop, it will gradually self-thin, creating significant amounts of deadwood in the process. Monitoring will indicate whether there is sufficient of each type being produced and any shortfall could be made up through intervention.

  • Retain older mature trees with rotting

wood and snags.


  • Where possible leave fallen deadwood, eg wind blow, in situ.

  • Ensure health and safety considerations are taken into account.

Deadwood safety

There is some public risk with deadwood and the woodland manager carries the duty of care. Standing deadwood clearly becomes unstable at some stage, so carries a risk, but this can be limited by selecting trees to create deadwood away from public rights of way, roads and property. Lying deadwood may be unstable if climbed on, and should be assessed and made safe. Refer to Forestry Commission guidance for further information (Lonsdale 2000).

Further reading

Butler J, Currie F and Kirby K (2002) There’s life in that deadwood – so leave some in your woodland. Quarterly Journal of Forestry 96: pp 131–137.

Forestry Commission (2002) Life in the deadwood: a guide to managing deadwood in Forestry Commission forests. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Hodge S J and Peterken G F (1998) Deadwood in British forests: priorities and a strategy. Forestry 71 (2): 99–112.

Kirby K J and Drake C M (eds) (1993) Deadwood matters: the ecology and

Dave Lamacraft (The RSPB)

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