Wildlife conservation, commercial woodland, nature reserve, outdoor playground…? What direction for one of our favourite forests?
Guisborough Forest is one of the best known areas of woodland in our region, and we are all being invited to have a say in what happens to the forest over the next ten years, and in setting the direction to be taken for the next fifty years.
Strung along the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors between Guisborough and Roseberry Topping, Guisborough Forest is important for tourism, heritage and leisure, for timber production and for the environment. Although there are pockets of ancient woodland within the forest boundaries, much of what we see now is the product of commercial planting dating from the 1950s and 60s. Forestry England is currently consulting on a long term plan.
Timber production is just the latest human activity in the area’s long history. There are Bronze Age features in and around the Forest, medieval holloways (sunken tracks), traces of ridge and furrow field systems and much evidence of quarrying and mining for sandstone, alum, jet and ironstone. There are connections with the Victorian industrialist Joseph Pease, who built a dam to provide hydro power for machinery at Home Farm on his estate. This created Blue Lake, where generations of local children learnt to swim – no longer recommended of course!
For wildlife lovers, there are lots of small mammals, insects and amphibians, and many species of birds including Willow Warbler, Dunnock, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Tit, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch and Woodcock. Every now and then you might even spot a red deer through the trees.
Forestry England is responsible for the management of the woodland, deciding what trees to plant and when to fell them. They need to continue commercial timber production, but have to take into account the other uses of the forest, and its character and location, whilst being sensitive to environmental factors too.
They propose to change the balance of tree species, with more broad leaved trees and fewer non-native conifers. They are also aiming to reduce the use of clear felling and adopt less intensive harvesting strategies.
However, there will be those who feel that the plan doesn’t go far enough and that the forest should become a combination of nature reserve and outdoor playground for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Equally some local residents will place the highest value on the economic benefits of timber production and the jobs this creates. Others may look at the role of the forest in carbon sequestration, water management and prevention of soil erosion.
Make sure to have your say and let’s make Guisborough Forest the best it can be for everyone in the Tees area.
See here for a summary of Forestry England’s Plan, including its Social, Environmental and Economic Objectives: https://www.forestryengland.uk/forest-planning/guisborough-forest-plan
The consultation response form is here: https://consult.forestryengland.uk/forest-districts/guisborough_forest_plan/consultation/intro/
The detailed plan is available here:
There is information about the leisure facilities at Guisborough Forest here: