The New Forest

Maintaining the Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands of the New Forest
George Peterken, Jonathan W Spencer, Alison B Field

Front Cover


This is a consultation document prepared by the ForestryCommission following a review of the distribution, composition andstructure of the Ancient and Ornamental Woodlands of the NewForest. Work has been aided by the sponsorship from ESSO plc undertheir "Living Tree Campaign". English Nature and other specialistecologists have assisted with advice and information. Jonathan Spencerwas seconded from English Nature to the Forestry Commission for a yearto review existing data, re-survey woodlands and prepared thisreport. He has now been retained for a further four years, partly toassist in the implementation of the agreed recommendations.

Our report presents a series of maps and tables on thecurrent composition of the Ancient and Ornamental woodland; it reviewsthe options for their management; presents a number of discussionpoints; and proposed a series of management actions to be undertakenover the next five years.

The challenge in preparing this report, has been to gaugethe extent to which we should interfere with the natural ecologicalprogression of this historic landscape. Our recommendations indicatewhere a free rein might be given to the independent life of thesewoods and where we think management should be tailored to sustainparticular woodland characteristics. Our aim is a collective visionfor long-term conservation and an agreed programme of action, whichwould be subject to periodic review. Our management proposals aresummarised:

Summary of Management Proposals:

  1. Most unenclosed woods to continue as wood pastureswithout direct management intervention, save for sporadic hollypollarding and limited removal of fallen timber.

  2. General reduction in deer populations throughout theForest combined with sharp reduction in particular areas. Monitoringof deer populations.

  3. Inappropriate species to be removed or much reducedfrom particular woods. This would include removal of inappropriateplanting in some 1949 Act enclosures.

  4. Reinstating traditional wood pasture in a few woods bypollarding some younger beech and oak, limited felling of competingtrees, limited planting of oak and permitted removal of firewood.

  5. Fencing small portions of a number of wood temporarilyin order to facilitate natural regeneration.

  6. Assigning a small number of unenclosed woods to a nearnatural regime in which there would be no manipulation of trees and noremoval of dead wood.

  7. All management actions to be photographed fromrelocatable points. A selection of 'passively managed' woods to bephotographed similarly. Permanent plot records to be maintained andanalysed.

  8. All management subject to continuous review but aformal review point to be agreed in 5 years time.

Map 2: Distribution of Ancient and Ornamental Woodsin 1996.

Map 3: Distribution of Woodland in the New Forestin 1789 as shown on Driver's map (1814 edition).

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