The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 8 Forest design, forestry and sylviculture

Forest landscape planning

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Forests need multi-objective landscape plans.

The chief success of British Forestry, apart from wood production, has been the visual integration of forestry with other land uses. The chief weakness of British Forestry has been the internal management of plantations for multiple objectives. In this, there is much to be learned from America. Gifford Pinchot's objective, of 1905, should head every forest plan, to obtain 'the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run'. Within forests, the principles of excellent forestry, as described by Gordon Robinson, should be followed: Excellent forestry consists of limiting the cutting to timber to that which can be removed annually in perpetuity. It consists of growing timber on long rotations, generally from one to two hundred years, depending on the species of trees and the quality of soil, but in any case allowing trees to reach full maturity before being cut. It consists of practising a selection system of cutting whenever this is consistent with the biological requirements of the species involved and, except in emergency situations, keeping the openings no larger than is necessary to meet those requirements. It consists of retaining whatever growth is needed for the comfort and prosperity of all the native plants and animals. Finally, it consists of taking extreme precautions to protect the soil, our all-important basic resource (Robinson 1988:1) In Britain, critics of plantation forestry should re-focus their attention on the internal management of forests. When they look badly managed, they are badly managed. To improve matters, comprehensive landscape plans of the type recommended by Dame Sylvia Crowe, in 1978, should be prepared for each and every forest: Since each forest is a complex multiï¾­purpose landscape a comprehensive landscape plan is needed to make the best use of all resources, to ensure that no one use will conflict with another, and to bring all uses together into a landscape which will both function well and look well. An analysis of the character of the landscape should be made, and a plan prepared. The plan should be based on contoured surveys, showing natural features, outstanding views, points of public access and areas of particular attraction to visitors. It should also record any fragile areas needing protection from overï¾­use, and soil conditions relating to wear capacity. It should cover enough of the surrounding land to put the forest into context, including the footpath and bridleway links to the countryside and villages outside the forest (Crowe 1978). Her recommendation was included in a Forestry Commission publication but never acted upon. In 1992 the Commission began to produce ambitious Forest Design Plans (Forestry Commission, 1993). Though somewhat influenced by amenity and conservation objectives, they are essentially plans for tree-felling and re-stocking. For forests in the public eye, better Forest Design Plans are produced.