Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is a relatively new approach to woodland management in the UK although well-practiced in mainland Europe. Fowberry Estate is one of the most progressive in England in terms of its environmental considerations in forestry.
The aim of CCF is to create a more diverse forestscape both in its structure and composition. This is achieved through a move away from traditional clear felling.
If you are wondering why? here are just a few of the reasons for taking the CCF approach.
1. A more diverse woodland is less affected by climate change than say, a stand of Sitka Spruce. Where one species may become affected by increased temperatures and reduced rainfall in summer, another will continue with little difficulty providing the woodland with a more robust structure.
2. A replanted area of clear fell may take 30 years – 40 years to reach a point where it can again be harvested. In this time a number of different species of animal will have made a home in this woodland. Clear felling destroys this home very quickly and can result in a loss of biodiversity in the area.
When managing for CCF there is always a covering of trees in the area providing a more permanent home for wildlife and increasing biodiversity in the area.
3. Visually the ugly scene of a clear fell site is removed as CCF will always have woodland present.
4. Natural regeneration is a vital part of CCF and helps to reduce the risk of disease from imported nursery stock. By providing areas of light through the canopy in CCF managed woodland natural regeneration of seeds can occur. These must be spotted and protected from browsing and competition from other species. When these seeds become saplings they can be repositioned to a more suitable site for the long-term.
5. It allows us to become re-connected with our woodlands. CCF requires a huge amount of skill and understanding of how the forest works. It arguably makes us gain a better understanding of the ecosystem as a whole.
Why isn’t everybody doing it?
As with any approach there are costs in contrasts to the benefits seen through CCF. The CCF approach undoubtedly requires more time to manage. Selection of trees to removed, extraction of timber and locating regeneration all take time and this results in an increase in costs.
Although in the first instance when thinning of woodland is undertaken a large yield is recovered for sale as fire and mill timber, later yields may be smaller.
Here at Fowberry Estate we are always happy to discuss our forestry practices and are very proud of the species diversity in terms of flora and fauna found on the estate. If you have any questions please do get in touch.