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Planting Trees for Fieldsports - Guidance from The Woodland Trust

Planting Trees for Fieldsports - Guidance from The Woodland Trust

This week, Russ Jobson from The Woodland Trust offers guidance on how to add useful tree cover to help your fieldsports activities! If you run a shoot, manage deer or a fishing beat, occupy a farm or croft, or are just interested in multi-layered land use, read on to find out more and how to access The Woodland Trust's free help:

The Woodland Trust manages more than 1,000 of its own sites across the UK, but also helps other landowners and managers plant new areas and improve existing woods. Our vision is for a UK rich in native woods and trees – and we are here to help anyone with land that might contribute to that.

Forestry, farming, and sporting management are too often considered in isolation from each other, or even worse, in competition. Thoughtful integration can see benefits for all.

Trees can help reduce nutrient and sediment runoff. Widen the planted area and you have a shelterbelt for livestock allowing them out of the shed earlier in spring, and giving shade in summer. Properly designed, this woodland could also hold game birds, and provide bank stabilisation by a river, and welcome cooling for fish and their aquatic prey. Woods can be green engineering to help reduce flooding, with the bonus of a fruit crop and down the line even potential wood fuel.

So it is important to see beyond the potential loss of basic farm payment and recognise what can be gained from strategically placed trees integrated into the overall land management strategy.

Woodland is a key element to enhancing the sporting potential of a landholding, especially when it comes to pheasants. Gamebirds, pheasants in particular, generally prefer cover found towards the edges of woodlands; that mix of mature trees, good shrub cover with decent margins of uncultivated land adjacent and access to open space. Ideally then, narrow woodlands 30-60m wide can be managed to create fantastic holding cover especially if designed with some open areas that will also create ‘woodland edge’ conditions within a wood. With this in mind it is relatively simple to integrate woodlands of this type into your land management and if these woodlands can also aid with some of the points mentioned above, it’s a win win situation.

Similarly, with existing mature woodland, a simple way to enhance it from a sporting perspective is to allow some expansion around the edges. This might involve fencing or change in land management techniques to encourage natural regeneration - or planting trees and shrubs. The right species mix can bring substantial improvements to the sporting qualities and it’s not just gamebirds that will thrive in these conditions. A multitude of other wildlife, birds, invertebrates and flora will find a place.

Hedgerows create fantastic habitat corridors linking woodland, scrub and existing hedgerows together, and if margins can be left adjacent to these too, then this will lead to significant enhancements across the landscape.

A lot of this mosaic tends to be found in the lower ground but let’s not forget the generally more barren upper hill ground. It would be tough to argue that tree regeneration/establishment is not severely affected by overgrazing in these areas however additional woodland on the hill ground can have considerable benefits to the sporting elements – cover for deer, increase of available food source, woodland edge for birds, improvements to riparian habitat, water and salmonid habitat.

There are well identified difficulties for establishing woodland in these areas and it won’t happen without the want and the will to make it so. One of the hardest issues is the timescales involved, the need to look beyond our own lifetimes and plan for 50, 100, 200yrs from now. This may be unrealistic for some but conversely, for others, an opportunity to leave a living legacy for generations to come.

Landowners, factors and farmers often have many plates to keep spinning and finding the time to explore woodland creation may not be the top of the list. This is where the Woodland Trust can really help, with its team of specialist advisors across the UK.

We can give advice on hedgerow creation and ancient woodland restoration, as well as planting new native woods – what to plant, where and how to look after it in the long term. Where suitable, advice is tailored to the forestry grant schemes operating in each constituent country of the UK. Our no obligation advice means that this is available to you even if, in the end, you decide not to plant.

Looking at planting 0.5ha> or looking to introduce hedges? We can help; Our MOREwoods & MOREhedges scheme offers you up to 75% discount against the cost of the trees and protection measures delivered to you at a time to suit.

Own a croft? We have specialist advisors to help guide you through your options for establishing woodland via our Croft woodlands project.

Ancient woodland is our richest land-based habitat for wildlife. They are home to more threatened species than any other, and some may even be remnants of the original wildwood that covered the UK after the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Yet today, ancient woodland covers only around 2% of the UK’s land area and is irreplaceable. If you have Ancient Woodland on your land we offer free, impartial advice on management, restoration and expansion of these vitally important woods that can be integrated into wider land/forestry management plans.

Whatever kind of native woodland creation or management you have in mind – Woodland Trust can help.

Thanks to Russ and The Woodland Trust!

Posted by: / 29 July 2019 at 13:05 / Comment

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