Why manage woodland?

A disturbing conclusion from the recent State of Nature report compiled by a coalition of environmental organisations is that 60% of the species studied have declined over recent decades. More than one in ten of all the species assessed are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether; and this trend is worryingly mirrored in Surrey and across the south east of England .

This decline is occurring despite a 5% increase in woodland cover since 1990. According to Rob Davies, Woodland Officer for Surrey Wildlife Trust, the present approach where most woodland is unmanaged is simply not working. A more intentional, strategic approach to woodland management is needed.

Sable Wood, unmanaged for at least 20 years shows some of the signs of decline: growing dominance by a few species, particularly non-native invasive species, with consequent loss of biodiversity, diminution of aesthetic appeal and an impoverished home for wildlife.

Heather in Sable Wood, evidence of heathland ecosystem, is threatened by growth of pine saplings.

Sensitive management is designed to

  • maintain a healthy age distribution of trees and other vegetation
  • enable light to reach the woodland floor
  • protect and promote the ecosystems that are naturally consistent with the climate, the underlying geology and soil, and the flora and fauna they support