We take a lot of care and attention when it comes to looking after our woodlands using a combination of traditional and modern management techniques to conserve each sites special historic and natural heritage. All management takes place in accordance with an approved Natural England and Forestry Commission Management Plan and Countryside Stewardship Agreement.
Why manage woodland?
Trees, habitat, carbon and climate change
Trees are important in the sequestration of carbon and help to offset climate change. Thinning trees or coppicing them is also important to create the warmer, lighter and protected environment which is needed as habitat for our native species of plants, insects, birds and mammals.
Trees have grown by using carbon taken from the atmosphere, so felling and removing them creates the space for more to grow, making a fairly short term carbon “cycle”. Where timber can be sold for building or furniture, it keeps that carbon out of the atmosphere whilst it is in use. If it is burned as firewood, it is putting carbon back into the atmosphere, although burning wood is said to be carbon neutral, since that carbon has come from the atmosphere in the first place.
If we did not manage woodland, there would be heavy shade under the canopy, with minimum in the way of habitat for biodiversity. Occasional gaps might appear as old, unhealthy or light demanding trees come to the end of their lives. But a much greater level of habitat diversity and carbon sequestration can be sustained through management. And since we all love wood in our homes, growing trees in the UK is also an important local, sustainable resource which we would not have without management.
Selling timber for building, furniture or the firewood market is important for the economics of managing woodland: it funds the work which allows the maintenance or creation of habitat for biodiversity, which along with public access, is a core objective of Essex County Council. We have seen in the past that without sufficient financial return, there is no woodland management, whether in public or private woodland.
Coppicing is a traditional management technique practiced extensively until about 70 years ago. Areas of woodlands, or ‘coupes’, are harvested on a rotation of up to 30 years.
Thinning mimics the natural selection process that occurs if woodland is left untouched, where the number and density of trees would reduce as a woodland matures.
We have put together a series of frequently asked questions to explain why we are managing the woodlands.