Small Woodland Owners' Group

Fencing Off Woodland

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby RobinB » Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:07 pm

Hello All,


I am new to the world of Woodland ownership, and am conducting as much research as possible before I take the plunge.


I was wondering if someone could advise me what the policy is regarding fencing or walling off privately held woodlands for security purposes. I am aware of the problems with intruders and vandals, so I wish to secure my conservation efforts from such abuses.


Any advice gratefully received!


Best wishes,


Robin


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Postby tracy » Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:21 pm

Hi Robin


Welcome to a new wonderful world! We do all understand your fencing thoughts too.

From my point of view (representing woodland owners in committee meetings) I face a lot of opposition and misunderstanding on fencing from woodland organisations and conservationists. They think it looks unfriendly, untidy, cuts off animal corridors... etc. If every small woodland owner put up fencing or walling then we would have a very divided looking countryside.


I don't have too many answers on dealing with the issues of vandals and trespassers, and there may well sometimes be a good argument and need for fencing, but it is an expensive option that comes with a lot of negative connotations!

Others here may well disagree with me though :-)

Dead hedging, holly and hawthorn hedging etc might be a better option?


Do you have a problem to deal with already? Look forward to hearing how you get on

All the best

Tracy


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Postby Exeldama » Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:04 pm

Have to agree with Tracy. growing a wildlife hedge (hawthorn, wild service,buckthorn,hazeletc etc) or just using brash a prefered option. Restricting movement of wildlife may prove more of a loss than the odd tool...shame we have to put up with tea leaves but hey ho.


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Postby Catweazle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:27 pm

Hi Robin,


I think most people would have a problem with an owner of part of a larger woodland suddenly putting up a chainlink fence, but if your wood is "detached" and you have a deer problem then maybe fencing is a necessity.


If you do have a small part of a larger wood then a deadhedge is a good option, it can be made deliberately loose so as to allow badgers and foxes to pass through but discourage people. A deadhedge can be more difficult for people to cross than many formal styles of fence, especially if you clear some trees alongside it to allow light in - within a short time it will be covered in brambles and surrounded by nettles.


If you have a problem with motorcycles, common in some areas, you can fell trees and leave them propped 2-3 feet off the ground, animals can go under, people go over, motorcycles go somewhere else.


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Postby tracy » Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:11 pm

Like those suggestions folks!


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Postby RobinB » Sat Aug 29, 2009 6:41 pm

Hello Everyone,


Many thanks to you all for your kind replies and suggestions. They are very much appreciated!


To answer Tracy's question, no, I don't have a problem currently - thankfully! I am trying to plan and anticipate as much as possible before purchasing my first piece of woodland. I'm really looking forward to it, but I also want to understand the problems and downsides, too.


The hedging idea sounds ideal. A natural preventative measure that fits in with the woodland environment, as well as providing a great deal of protection and security. I certainly came to the right place with my question! Thank-you all again for sharing your knowledge and expertise. A special thank-you to Catweazle for your specific advice dependent on the type of woodland; very informative and helpful at this current pre-purchase stage.


I will certainly keep you all updated with my progress!


Best wishes,


Robin


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Postby tracy » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:14 am

Glad it helped Robin, have you already picked your bit of woodland then and started the process?


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Postby RobinB » Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:11 pm

Hello Tracey,


I am weighing up a few possible areas of varying sizes and costs. I have focused on the south-east - as I live in London - but am not discounting other areas of the country, especially considering the larger size of woodland that can be bought for around the same price. I also don't want to 'bite off more than I can chew' and buy a piece of woodland that I cannot maintain properly, as I am a complete novice to woodland conservation.


When I have narrowed down my top three, I was thinking of posting another forum article asking for some specific advice and feedback on those areas. Would that be alright? I wouldn't want to appear presumptuous in asking SWOG members for help with my purchase.


Kind regards,


Robin


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Postby tracy » Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:34 pm

You can ask anything you like RobinB. You will get as many opinions as there are people on the forum - which is great because you can then weigh it all up and do what you like!

Others may mention things that you have not thought about.


There are pros and cons to each wood and area - you will just need to know what you can and can't live without.

Personally I think the nearer the better!


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Postby Catweazle » Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:22 pm

You need to be honest with yourself and forward thinking about what you want from the woodland. Woodland conservation for wildlife is satisfying, but it might not be so compatible with making an income from the woodland to subsidise your earnings or pension. There are also tax implications which differentiate between amenity and commercial woodland and grants which do the same.


If you are fit and have plenty of time you can make money from a mature commercial woodland, the standing timber could be worth close to what you pay for the land if you can supply the substantial amount of labour to cut and extract it. Amenity woodland is rather different and you are unlikely to get your money back for many years.


I see you are in London, so you'll probably be looking for land in Kent, Surrey or Sussex. Most commercial woodland in these areas is Sweet Chestnut coppice, a very dense woodland not ideal for wildlife due to the close canopy, mono-culture and it being a non-native species ( although it's been here since the Romans ). On the plus side; they are often planted with Oak "standards" ( full size trees not cut on coppice rotation ) which are host to 250 species of plant and insect, and are considered commercial woodland eligible for all manner of grants and tax-breaks.


If you do buy a commercial woodland don't forget that the age of the standing wood should be reflected in the price of the land; SC coppice will need to grow for at least 20 years before you get a good crop so if it's been cut the year before you have a long wait, and you know why it's up for sale ( you will, however, have the most amazing wildflowers springing up between the coppice stools). If you can find one 20+ years since the last cut and at a reasonable price you are onto a winner, depending on soil and planting density you could have 80 tons of post and rail fencing and 50 tons of firewood per acre.


I was talking to a forester last week who was complaining that many large woods are being broken into smaller plots and sold, a lot of members of this forum have bought these, and the forester was saying that it is becoming difficult to cut these woods now because the owners don't always see the trees as a crop.


I can see his point to an extent, if a wood was 100 acres and was normally cut at say 5 acres per year the coppice gets to grow for 20 years each time and the specialised wildlife that lives in coppice of a certain age has an easy time following the suitable habitat. Now imagine the woods has been divided into 20 lots, which owner will want to have his 5 acre lot cut completely ? Will the neighbours allow the logging trucks to cross their land to extract the timber ?


Of course some woods are so neglected that the smaller owners perform much needed maintenance, but you can see that what I'm saying is that you need to have a flexible attitude and be aware that sometimes cutting a tree down is the best thing for it.


Lastly, as Tracy says, the closer the better.


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