Looking after Quantock woodland

The Forest Cycle

Designing a woodland

New forests are planted for many reasons: to produce timber, for recreation or as a habitat for wildlife. Different trees prefer different soil, shelter and they produce different sorts of wood. So before planting anything, a forester usually gets together with a forest designer to agree on the best design for the new woodland.

In the tree nursery

Tree seeds are collected in the autumn.  Not all trees always produce seeds. For example, the oak only produces seed every four years. Once collected the tree seeds are stratified. The trees seeds are planted in the nursery protected from frost, mice or birds. Generally the trees stay in the nursery for 3 years.

Tree planting

Before planting the trees, the foresters have to prepare the ground help the trees grow. There are different ways of doing this: they can use a digger to make mounds of soil or they can plough or scarify the ground. Sometimes they put up a deer and or rabbit fence to make sure the trees do not get eaten! Tree planting occurs from November to April. An experienced tree planter can plant up to 1200 conifer trees a day


Most conifers are thinned when they are about 25 - 30 years old. This depends on the growing conditions Thinning creates more space between the remaining trees so that they grow thicker and stronger. Thinnings are used for making paper pulp or boards. The forest is thinned again about every 5 - 7 years

Harvesting or Cutting down the trees

Conifers stop growing when they are 50 - 70 years old, so they are cut down.  
Hard wood forests are left for 100 - 150 years.

Tree Species found in Great Wood.

The two most common species of tree planted in Great Wood are:

  • Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis). The wood from this species is used to make paper or pulp and sometimes for construction timber.
  • Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). The wood from this species is used to make plywood or used in joinery and structural work.

What about the older woodlands?

On the Quantock Hills there are large areas of semi-natural woodlands that lie in the combes in the north of the Quantocks. In the past they were managed for the charcoal and tanning industries, but now they are left to look after themselves. One of the issues for the AONB Service is how these woodlands can be managed for them to survive into the future.



Click on the framed picture for tour stop 9

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