We’ve developed a future blueprint for these amazing woods with the help of experts from organisations like The Woodland Trust, Butterfly Conservation Group and The Sussex Wildlife Trust, as well as our own advisers and many other local groups and individuals.
We now have a woodland management plan that maps, designs and helps create our vision for how the wood could look for generations to come. This was formally agreed with the Forestry Commission in February 2017 and we have been acting on that. This has included annual recovery of timber and biomass for use in local markets, and the construction of a Forest Road – badly needed due to the very wet nature of the woods in winter.
Laughton Greenwood is part of a bigger 250-hectare site. In recent generations much of the hardwoods were felled and conifers were planted under Forestry Commission guidance in the post war period. Their policy has now shifted to supporting biodiversity, and the regeneration of native broadleaf species. Our plans include:
- thinning out the poor quality and mature pine, selling it for wood chip, sawlogs and some higher value products
- encouraging natural regeneration plus adding some planting of healthy, native hardwood trees
- controlling the large deer population who are eating away naturally regenerated trees
- enhancing natural features like the wet areas, ponds, heathland and open areas
- bringing small areas of chestnut back into active management
- respecting natural archeological features, like streams, banks and ditches
- developing a network of rides and paths to benefit wildlife and recreational use
Pine clearance allows the light in, creates better habitats for birds and butterflies, improves safety and encourages the vitality of the remaining trees. It has also brought in some much-needed income.
Our team also has use of a portable sawmill to make benches, picnic tables, candle holders and coat hooks.
We’re evolving our business plan by testing out ideas, using pilot projects and feedback. We welcome local businesses and crafts people who would like to engage with us for products, building wood, and other projects.
Our goal is to create a viable social enterprise with jobs in areas like woodworking, health & wellbeing and nature-based experiences.