Woodland management at Loddington

16 May 2024 | Conservation Series

Our second update from the Allerton Project, Conservation Officer, Jobe Burnham, sees Jobe tackle woodland management at Loddington. Look out for regular up-dates of his work, as he grapples with the demands of the Sustainable Farming Incentive, keeping the Gamekeeper happy, and the need to demonstrate excellence in conservation to the critical eyes of our thousands of visitors.
Jobe Burnham
Conservation Officer, GWCT Allerton Project

The Allerton estate has 20 hectares of woodland. These vary in age, with 50% mature woodland and 50% younger plantations mainly planted in the early years of the Allerton trust, during the mid 1990s. The more mature areas are predominantly deciduous, with ash trees being most common and the plantations containing a mix of spruce, larch and hard wood species. All of these require some level of management. Lucky for me we have a plan. Created in 2018, the project’s Woodland Management Plan – all 24 pages of it, was there at my disposal!

We aren’t growing trees as a crop at Allerton, although we will use timber to fuel the two biomass boilers on the estate. Our main focus is biodiversity and habitat for game birds to benefit the shoot.

I only had a short window of opportunity this year, during February and March. Trying to choose days where it wasn’t raining – there weren’t many – and the saturated ground made even traveling to the woodland a challenge on its own. The estate did purchase a small ATV timber trailer which was a great investment. Able to travel into the woodland without the need for heavy machine, which certainly would have made a mess.

John our Ecologist and Matt the Gamekeeper set me off in the direction of areas they felt would benefit the estate the most. With Matt’s help we have successfully thinned three small blocks of woodland. I am looking forward to monitoring how this will improve the biodiversity and how the woodland will hopefully hold more game birds. With light now reaching the ground floor we should get a ground covering of flora and fauna and the opportunity for fresh saplings to grow giving a much more diverse structure across the woodland

Barrow Hill

Big Park

Looking to next winter, I plan to create more woodland through an England Woodland Creation Offer. We hope to plant around two hectares of currently nonproductive arable land and part of a disused railway line. I will also have some tough decisions to make around ash die back in some of the mature woodland – whether or not to clear fell some areas.

Woodland management is something I believe should be focused on more. There are plenty of brownie points for creating woodland but if we manage what we already have we can make such a difference to our wildlife.