Forestry England Blog

Woorgreens - Nathan Millar

For over 100 years, Forestry England have been growing, shaping, and caring for our nation’s forests.

The nation’s forests comprise the biggest single resource in the west and south-west of England and is managed by West England Forest District. The forests are loved and cherished by many, as havens of calm and tranquillity, destinations of choice for walking and cycling, attractive to families – encouraging people from local communities, as well as visitors from further afield to get out and relax, get fit, enjoy, and be inspired by our natural environment.

The West England Forest District manages large areas of wooded and open habitat in the Forest of Dean helping support a vast range of our native wildlife and contribute strongly to the rural economy, be it through employment in forestry itself, or the vibrant visitor economy.

Some of the UK’s most-loved wildlife depends on our careful and sustained land. The Forest of Dean offers some of the best places to spot wildlife from large mammals such as deer, to some of the smaller inhabitants such as bats, dormice, butterflies and Nightjar.

That said, the ecological richness of the Forest of Dean has declined over the last few decades, and some species are at risk of extinction in the Forest.

Nightjar - David Tipling/2020VISION

Nightjar - David Tipling/2020VISION

Forestry England are committed to growing the woodlands we manage ensuring superb forests are filled with biodiversity where wildlife can flourish. Reintroductions are a key part of this, to restore species from where they’ve been lost. It’s because we manage the nation’s forests well, because of the superb and extensive habitats they hold, that Forestry England sites are often identified as potential release sites.

Woorgreens - Nathan Millar

Woorgreens - Nathan Millar

Habitat engineers, such as beaver and pine marten, have been identified as animal species that can be used to deliver positive change to ecosystem functioning. Pine marten have the potential to impact grey squirrel populations and lower the density of squirrels, which will reduce damage to trees and predation of other species.

Restoring these missing pieces of an ecosystem can be valuable, not only for the conservation of the species themselves, but also for the beneficial impacts they can have on other wildlife. For instance, predators have an essential role in naturally balancing prey populations, so that single species don’t come to dominate a forest.

Beaver - David Parkyn/ Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Beaver - David Parkyn/ Cornwall Wildlife Trust

We hope that this project has three main legacies, a vibrant, well connected and integrated population of pine martens in the Forest of Dean; a blueprint for other similar projects to learn from and follow; and inspire us all to think at landscape scale about woodland ecology and nature recovery.

In time, it is hoped they will spread and link up with the Welsh pine martens, and other growing English populations so their numbers and genetics can support one another.

We hope that this project can inspire others to allow the decisions we take to be guided by the natural potential of the land, as well as the varied influences of our ever-changing world, we will create a diverse and inclusive forest that is a global example of what can be achieved through forward-thinking woodland and habitat management.

Pine marten - Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Pine marten - Mark Hamblin/2020VISION