Some of our woodland plantings have also been concentrated on the wetter and heavy ground. In 2016 four hectares of new native woodland were planted in partnership with the Woodland Trust which has helped with flood alleviation into two of the River Rother tributaries.
In total, we own and manage around 46 hectares of woodland and there are management plans for the main blocks of woodland where there is an ancient semi natural woodland (ASNW) and planted ancient woodland (PAWS). The woodland is actively managed by our in-house team and projects include the utilisation of materials for estate buildings, fencing, charcoal and firewood.
The potential for good quality oak to be grown on the gault clay in the woodland is recognised and is seen in some of the stem quality present in our largest block of woodland and Brick Kiln Copse. Our goal is to create stems of butt diameter, with the majority of stems reaching beam and some butt quality. Thinning and nursing is aiming to take account of this, as well as planting with registered stock to ensure good provenance. Previous Oak has been sawn on the estate and has been sold locally to a timber framing company or used for building projects on the estate.
Out of the conifer species, the Douglas Fir seem to do well. The timbers have been utilised on the estate for post and rail fencing and tree guards for parkland planting. Scots Pine has been sold for shavings with other species from ride and glade work sold for woodchip. As well as Oak, many broadleaved species are present. Our estate wood fuel heating system requires around 110 tonnes a year. This provides a real bonus to finding a market for broadleaves and softwood of unmarketable size and species from the estate.
We commissioned a report into the feasibility of wood fuel heating at the main Hill Ash residence and Woodhouse Farm. It concluded that both residences would benefit from a reduction in fossil fuel heating and improved sustainability through utilising the estates own wood fuel supply. The recommendation was to use a log boiler system at both sites which has proved to be an excellent mechanism to stimulate woodland management on previously uneconomic areas of woodland as well as promoting productivity. The installation has provided a combined 100 KW output, fed exclusively through timber from the estate.
We have planted and restored a very large amount of hedgerows over the last 15 years that were either removed by previous government incentives or fell into disrepair. The estate has laid hedgerows in places to encourage a thick bottom and our in-house team cut all hedges to ensure quality and the progression of the majority of hedgerows to an “A” shape structure as good practice. Around six kilometres of hedge have been planted and restored on the estate to date.