Small Woodland Owners' Group

Narky locals.

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby Exeldama » Sun Nov 15, 2009 10:57 pm

I have a track through the middle of my wood. There has never been any public right of way though horses seemed to churn it up prios to my purchasing the land.

I put up a polite sign just reminding people it was private land, and now they have cut the sign off and thrown it on the floor. Plus pulled out a couple of stakes.

This is really annoying me , if locals loved the woods so much why didnt they buy it..?? we have all put our money where our mouths are, and are giving blood and sweat, so what gives these dipsticks the right to think they can do this.

Other than setting some man traps, and hiring a hit man any ideas.

the track gives access to all the woods most sensitive parts, there is even a gate across it.

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Postby tracy » Mon Nov 16, 2009 8:16 am

Hi Exeldama

Many people fear the unknown, and also love to walk through woodlands. They don't like to be told suddenly that they can't. This one is very difficult. In my very limited experience, suddenly telling people to keep out tends to alienate them and make them angry. 'I have walked here for 20 years'! is often said!!

Any chance you can get to meet those who walk in the wood and get to know them? Might be the best way to deal with the situation. I guess letting the track overgrow may work too -but might lead to them creating a new one....

Frustrating, but I can't see how we can stop trespass without alienating people and making them cross and difficult. If you can get a chance to meet them that might work best

Let us know how you get on


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Postby DuncanB » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:36 pm

I had a big problem with trespassers in my wood when I bought it - mainly middle aged gentlemen (not locals)who visited in pairs! I fenced off the land (barbed wire) where they were entering and put up signs. The signs were knocked down, and the fence was attacked, but I've stuck with it and don't get many trespassers at all now! (I've put up a heavily disguised camera to monitor who visits).

the fence and signs were always repaired/replaced very quickly to show that there was someone monitoring the land.

I've always felt that people removed signs so that they could say that they thought that they had a right of way when challenged, I also found that printing a load of signs on a pc, laminating them and then stapling to trees takes a lot less effort than it takes to remove them!

I liaised with the police a lot and found them to be very supportive, but their hands are heavily tied as trespass is a civil offence.

I always challenge (and photograph) anyone I find in my woods, and order them to leave - most have been apologetic, though there are some very nasty individuals out there! I believe that the law allows us to use "reasonable force" to remove trespassers - but on no account should you ever do this in practice!

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Postby Darren » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:37 pm

We have a ride running about 20 metres along side the bridal way. We use to get horses and walkers going up and down making it really muddy and the flowers never grew. I put a bar across the ride and put up signs. Someone threw the bar away and others said they never saw the signs. So this year a reluctantly put up some expensive wooden gates. Seems to given out the message that I'm serious.

If you want to keep people out cut down some hawthorn brash and block up the entrance and put a path somewhere hidden.

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Postby RichardKing » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:29 pm

I suffered from trees being felled & stolen for firewood. But I built a 50 metre long wall of brash with barbed wire reinforcement. This in combination with coppicing the area near the layby seems to have put an end to it.

This summer saw vandalism from local kids. I distributed 150 leaflets to every house in the nearby village. Hopefuly this together with the police asking questions may have stopped it.

I have challenged a couple of tresspassers, their responses have been verbally aggressive.

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Postby Toby Allen » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:49 pm

Wow, sounds like a right pain in the xxxx

I've never had problems with the public in any woods I work in. Though i dont own them so maybe I'm a little more laid back about it, some of the woods are open access so we have to be a bit carefull while working etc.

I always try to engage them, if they visit regularly I give them my number and ask to phone me if they see anyone tampering. Often they end up buying stuff or passing word on to people that do. Kids can be annoying, but remember theyre only there cos they like being in the woods, they could be the forestrors of the future.

I expect a bit of wood to go missing, not the end of the world, a line of paint over the stack keeps a tab on it, or a couple of runs of strained wire staked over the more valuable stacks. You cant stop a determined thief, but hopefully one of the regular visitors may spot something or catch them in the act.

As someone that enjoys walking around our lovelly country and woods the thought of being challenged, videoed, blocked and barbed wired makes me a little worried.

Not all visitors are nefarious.

Toby Allen
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Postby James M » Mon Nov 16, 2009 7:03 pm

When we got our woods in Scotland the idea that right to roam meant anyone could go anywhere in them really concerned me. In practice, it has solved a lot of problems - people have the right to come and go as they please, but because they can do so anywhere we don't get many.

They, and I know that they have that right so it's not an issue and there's no conflict. Oddly, the people I have come across, even when I've been shooting, seem to be cool about it and appreciate that they can explore, and behave themselves. I say 'good morning', they say 'good morning' and we go our merry ways. I do say, 'watch out for adders, don't let you kids poke about in the undergrowth' and that keeps them moving.

We have had a quad bike and horses through making a bit of a mess, but that's just human behaviour and happens everywhere anyway.

If it were me I'd have no signs put up, which are like a red rag to a bull for some people. You don't want to get into a situation where the same people see it as a personal battle with you. Use natural barriers like brash as suggested, maybe plant some rare/protected species so you can legally fence big areas off. Brambles are a good idea.

Pick your battles carefully - telling the public to keep out of woodlands is one we can never win. I know it's easier for us because we are in a rural area. It's quiet anyway.

James M
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Postby MartinD » Mon Nov 16, 2009 10:00 pm

You can attempt to avoid future claims for footpaths by making a deposition under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980

[Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 allows landowners to make their intentions

clear by depositing with the highway authority maps and statements which admit the

public rights of way that already exist on their land. If the landowner follows this by

depositing a statutory declaration to confirm that no new rights of way have been

dedicated, and renews this every ten years, any public use of his land will not count

towards the establishment of new public rights of way. This gives the landowner a way

of protecting his property, while still allowing a degree of permissive public access.

Once lodged with the highway authority, the map, statement and declaration become

public documents and available for public inspection.]

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Postby RichardKing » Tue Nov 17, 2009 7:22 am


are Woodlands For Sale making such a deposition ?

I have encountered trespassers on tracks (owned by WFS) claiming that they were on "public footpaths".

If these tracks were ever redesignated a public rights of way it would clearly devalue my (& other owners) property.

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Postby tracy » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:39 am

No idea - I will ask....

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