The High Weald AONB is characterized by the great extent of ancient woods, gills, and shaws in small holdings, the value of which is inextricably linked to long-term management. Vision for woodland A landscape in which the nationally important assemblage of ancient woodland in the High Weald is managed to maximise its full wildlife, landscape and historical value. Within this, connectivity between woodland and other habitats is enhanced, archaeology protected, sensitive use for leisure and recreation encouraged, and traditional woodland management active in producing high- quality timber and valued underwood to supply the local markets.
This vision can be realised through strategic focusing of management on key woodland areas (built on better understanding); through new initiatives and policies that seek to support the development of a thriving woodland industry; stimulating new markets for bulk use of coppice; supporting better marketing of local timber and coppice products; increasing understanding and enjoyment of the High Weald’s woodland; and providing expert advice to land managers.
Top 5 issues for woodland
• Neglect – e.g. lack of management and poor stock, deer and pest control e.g. grey squirrel
• Extent of non-native species. For example, 36% of woods in the AONB are plantations on ancient woodland (PAWS). Other non-native species include invasive rhododendron, cherry laurel and sycamore.
• Fragmentation – the poor connectivity, increasing isolation, fragmented ownership, and small size of many woodlands is degrading their ecological value and potential productivity
• Collapsed timber market – its drastic decline over the last 50 years has led to a lack of woodland management, decline in local woodland industries, and the loss of skilled woodland workers
• Poor understanding – of ecology and historic environment in the High Weald woodlands, and the nature and extent of the management required to bring them into favourable condition on a landscape scale under a changing climate.