Woodland Management Focus Area Pilot

The Woods into Management Forestry Innovation Funds (WiMFIF), managed by the Forestry Commission, was developed and launched in 2021 to support innovative projects that will encourage more woods to be brought into active management.

Presently around 41% of our woodlands are not actively managed and this can have a negative impact on the biodiversity they contain. By increasing the area of woodlands in active management, these funds aim to restore vulnerable woodland habitats and help woodlands adapt to a changing climate and recover from the impacts of pests and diseases.

Woodland Management Focus Area Pilot

The Woodland Management Focus Area Pilot identified un- and under-managed woodlands in the wider North East and Yorkshire area with low barriers into management before then supporting and educating woodland owners to bring their woodlands into management through webinars, individual advice, and online tools such as the myForest Woodland Assessor.

The project was funded under Round 1 of the Forestry Commission’s WiMFIF initiative and led by Northumberland-based low carbon and forestry consultancy, Reheat, joined by a consortium of industry experts, including: forestry charity, Sylva Foundation, rural training consultancy, RDI Associates, and rural development advisor, Martin Glynn FICFor.

To identify unmanaged woodlands in the wider North East and Yorkshire area with the lowest barriers into management, the project used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) integrated with Multi-Criteria Decision Making Analysis (MCDA). The methodology identified barriers to and benefits of managing woodland including proximity to roads, water courses, and designated areas.

Unmanaged woodlands were identified using the Forestry Commission’s Managed Woodland Headline Performance Indicator dataset. Each pocket of unmanaged woodland was designated a score depending on its proximity to the barriers and benefits. This score was influenced by the importance of each barrier and benefit to unmanaged woodlands. Each benefit and barrier were assigned a unique weighting based on the team’s expertise.

The higher the score of each pocket of woodland, the easier and greater the opportunity for management. Figure 1 shows pockets of woodlands in the study area. Those in green have smaller barriers into management with greater benefits of bringing the woodland into management.