Pigs can have a damaging effect on ancient woodland. They are omnivores and will forage for their own food on the woodland floor. If confined within a woodland they will strip the bark from trees, dig up the roots and bulbs of wildflowers and destroy vegetation. In the long term this can be detrimental to the ground flora of ancient woodlands. Our advice is to keep them outside your woodland unless you are prepared to:
- maintain very low stocking rates
- monitor their effect on the ecology of the woodland
- move them around the woodland regularly
- supplementary feed them when necessary.
The Forestry Commission have produced a guidance note 'Domestic Stock Grazing to Enhance Woodland Biodiversity' which discusses the issues of grazing animals in woodland.
The history of pigs in woodland
You may have heard stories of the woodlands of Kent, Sussex and Surrey being used for pannage. There is evidence for pannage taking place in the High Weald. However pannage was a seasonal activity, pigs would have foraged woods for a short period of time (a couple of months) during the autumn. Therefore their impact on the ecology of the woodland would have been fairly small.