5-Year Woodland Creation Plan for Needwood

The Duchy of Lancaster is to plant 25 acres of new woodland on the historic Needwood Estate in Staffordshire as part of its strategic objective on woodland creation.

The Duchy’s Needwood Estate extends to 7,300 acres and historically included a large area of ancient woodland which was home to extensive stocks of wolf, wild boar and fallow deer. Today 1,235 acres of this ancient woodland remains and in 2015 the Duchy entered into a 10-year woodland management plan to improve and enhance the existing stock.

Under the new agreement, native species such as oak, lime, silver birch, Scots pine and field maple will be reintroduced, amongst others, with the long-term aim of providing a multitude of new wildlife habitats. Permissive public access will also be granted within these woodlands, contributing to the National Forest and benefitting local residents and visitors. Areas of new parkland will be created alongside more traditional woodland planting which will seek to expand the existing woodlands at Brakenhurst.

Commenting on the initiative, Duchy Head of Rural Carol Hawkey said: “This is an excellent step forward in terms of delivering new woodland as part of our long-term vision for Needwood. The Duchy is keen to protect, enhance, expand, and preserve this ancient woodland area, much of which is open to the public, for future generations. We believe that this project will help us to do that in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.”

Forestry and woodland consultants Forwoods have been working closely with the Duchy and the National Forest to deliver the plan. “These new woodlands will provide long-term environmental enhancement to the local area, whilst still allowing for commercial timber production in years to come,” said Forwoods MD Matt Brocklehurst. “The new woodlands will also sequester carbon over their lifetime, helping to combat climate change.”

The Needwood Estate, including the Royal Forest of Needwood, first became part of the Duchy of Lancaster circa 1267 when Henry III gifted the land to his son Edmund, the first Earl of Lancaster and predecessor of the celebrated diplomat and soldier Henry Grosmont on whom Edward II conferred the new title of ‘Duke of Lancaster’ in 1351.

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