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Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

non-commercial thinning of the crops does provide opportunities for light to get into the understorey and for flora to develop and eventually, if required, successional crops to develop.


  • Retain even-aged mature stands within the forestry mosaic, especially where populations of priority species favouring such woodlands are known.

  • Regular thinning to allow greater light to the understorey, creating opportunities for tree species diversity, and for the shrub and field layers to develop.

Issue: woodland edge A soft edge, where the density of trees gradually diminishes rather than an abruptly changes, provides resources for several species, eg black grouse.


  • Careful thinning to soften the woodland edge can be beneficial to black grouse if adjacent to suitable lekking territories, as well as providing nesting and foraging habitat for other woodland edge species like cuckoo, bullfinch and tree pipit. This management will depend to some extent on the age of the crop. Thinning of woodland edge can be done in young crops less than 15 years old, eg heavy re-spacing down to 20% of normal stocking, including groups of trees. Older crops are more difficult and it may be easier to clearfell and restock to a more suitable density.

  • It is usually easiest to create the required edges from new planting rather than mature woodland, eg with low density planting or use of low shrub species rather than trees.

  • Leave areas of checked (poorly grown) trees.

  • Often these areas are drained; clearing conifers can be enhanced by blocking drains with brash or other means to re- wet areas.

Continuous cover forestry

Continuous cover forestry (CCF) is based upon a presumption against clearfelling, the use of natural regeneration and the creation of a varied forest structure containing a range of species (Mason et al. 1999; Mason and Kerr 2004). It has increasingly been seen as a possible approach to many of the issues of concern regarding commercial conifer forests, eg clearfelling being detrimental to the landscape, and a lack of diversity in species and structure. Many conifer woodlands in Wales have been identified for CCF management.

For more information on CCF see the Forestry Commission website, www.forestresearch.gov.uk, or the Continuous Cover Forestry Group website, www.ccfg.org.uk.

Wood chips

The disposal of brash arising from the removal of scrub and conifers is a problem facing many habitat restoration projects. If the brash is not required as deadwood on site, one option is to chip the material in situ using mechanical chippers, eg Softrak, GreenMech Eco-chip, TP wood chipper. The wood chips can then be used for path or track improvement, where it will not impact on ground flora, or for commercial off-site uses, eg composting, bio-fuel or for bracken control.


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