Updated 5 May 2007

Planting a new oakwood in Dorset

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NBL Plantation in Derbyshire

A friend runs an oak plantation in Derbyshire. He has about 20 acres, and started planting in 2004. However, he gets a grant, and is required to plant at a spacing of about 2 meters (my spacing in Dorset is 10 meters). He says:
"We're planting 12,500 trees in total, 50% oak, 20% Silver Birch, 15% Rowan, and 5% each of ash, hawthorne and hazel. We suffer around 5% loss each year which we have to replant as part of the forestry grant".
Another friend flies a paramotor in Derbyshire, and took the following aerial photos of the plantation.

Description of planting:
1. Two fields about 4.5 acres total. 1st year planting 3920 trees [2004/5]
2. Biggest field 5 acres 4500 trees planted out last winter. [2005/6]
3. 4th field all set out and ready to plant this winter 4000 trees. [2006/7]
4. About 1.5 acres of Norway spruce to fell and replant with NBL
[Native Broad Leaf] before 2011.
Blue line = Hodge Lane Brook - the start of the River Amber. Between the river and the fields is the 25yr old wood.
The Plantation is 700-800 ft above sea level, sloping towards the South. O.S.ref: SK 324-645.
1. Taken 3 May 2007 by Neil France
2. Taken 3 May 2007 by Neil France. Field #4 has approx 130 x 30 herbicide rings.
3. Taken 3 May 2007 by Neil France
4. Taken 3 May 2007 by Neil France
5. Taken 3 May 2007 by Neil France
8x. Close-up of herbicide rings around each tree, 2 meter spacings.
6. Taken 5 May 2007 by Neil France
7. Taken 5 May 2007 by Neil France
8. Taken 5 May 2007 by Neil France
9. Taken 5 May 2007 by Neil France. Whitfield Farm.

Subject: OAK WOOD
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 12:15:27 EDT

Hi John and Rosie,

I found your web site while searching for instructions on how to put up a tawny owl box.

Great reading your account of the planting as I can really relate to all your problems!

In December 2001 I bought 20 acres in Derbyshire and started planting an oak woodland - my lifelong ambition.

I plant with my partner, Sarah and my son Sam (daughter comes occasionally - reluctantly- and fits rabbit guards).

We're planting 12,500 trees in total, 50% oak, 20% Silver Birch, 15% Rowan, and 5% each of ash, hawthorne and hazel.

We suffer around 5% loss each year which we have to replant as part of the forestry grant.

My worst job is spraying roundup around the trees. I now pray for rain in the spring and panic when there's more than 3 days consecutive sun. If a tree is doing badly I get down on my hands and knees and weed and prune it. I get really excited when I see my first leaf of the year.

They really do start to take over your life don't they?

I've enclosed a picture showing 3 of the 4 fields.

Good luck with your wood.



Subject: Re: OAK WOOD
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 15:56:09 EDT

In a message dated 18/09/2006 22:49:52 GMT Daylight Time, JohnPalmer@eyemead.com writes:
1. What part of Derbyshire? I run a large website to do with the area around Wirksworth, see: http://www.wirksworth.org.uk
Yes, I noticed you had a wirksworth connection and I'm pretty sure I used the web site while tracing the history of our land. (quite something as well. We have an old lead smelting mill in the valley bottom) Anyway the land is here.... http://www.streetmap.co.uk/newmap.srf?x=432195&y=364545&z=3&sv=432195,364545&st=4&ar=Y&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf

2. What kind of land? Mine is 7 acres of pasture on floodplain. We've already had one flood in Dec 05, but lost no trees at all. My brother and I have an adjacent 20 acres which we are turning into a reserve, on the banks of Dorset's largest river.
I have 15 acres of improved grassland on the South side of the valley at the head of the river Amber. I also have 5 acres of woods, 3 of which was planted out around 25 years ago with Scots Pine Oak Silver Birch Beach and Larch, and 2 acres of Norway Spruce for which I have just received a felling licence with a view to replanting with NBL.

3. Do you grow from acorn, or get saplings? It sounds a huge job just planting 12,500 trees! Never mind replacing 625 per year!
No, we buy 1+0 40-60 bare root whips which means they are 1 year old and between 40 and 60 cms tall. Planting's not too bad. We put in a single notch and then stamp them well in. Last year we averaged 200 per day but this year we were down to 150. (getting old).

4. What are your main problems? Mine are deer and field voles. I lashed out on 800 metres of deer fencing, that solved the problem but was expensive. We lost about 10% through vole action, but seem to have solved the problem by hoeing around all 307 trees every 10 days, also using owl and kestrel boxes.
I am really thankfull we have no deer. we do have rabbits and hares though which means all trees have to have a cane and a guard. The problem with the spiral guards is that the trees sweat and go mushy. Although once they've grown through they're ok so i guess that it'll only be a problem for the first few years. Our main problem is the ground drying out,cracking and exposing the roots. This was worst 1st year as we were advised to plant using an L shape notch. Planting was fine but when drying did occur the sod we had lifted simply shrank. I started going round with a hoe to try to break things up but as with other ideas I've had (like watering) it would be OK with 100. with multiples of 4000 it becomes impossible.

5. What are your spacings? Mine are 10 metres between each tree. This means we don't qualify for a Forstry Commission grant, but get a Rural Agency grant. It also means our trees spread out more and adopt their natural shape. You have 17 times my tree density!
Our spacings are 2 metre which, at this stage, does look a little regimented, although I'm assured that as they develop and get thinned it will all look a bit more natural.
Now just to be contentious, you say yours will adopt their natural shape...Well, I was watching a programme on telly about the ancients using oak to build their canoes and because the old Oak forests had been felled it was very difficult to replicate. This is because in their original, natural environment (before agriculture) most oaks would be growing in dense forests and therefor tall and straight.

6. What type of Quercus do you use? Mine are robur and all come from the same "mother" tree, the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.
Same type but not nearly as romantic - mine come from a nursery in Horncastle. I think the Major Oak thing is fantastic as I suppose do most folk.

7. What's under the grass? We have about a foot of soil, then two foot of clay, then gravel containing the ground water. Water is never a problem, and the oaks seem to have found it.
We have clay, clay and more clay. In winter it's a 15 acre sponge. In summer it's concrete!

8. How often do you use Glyphosate? We water with a rose in late April, and again in late October, the aim being to produce a bare patch 1 meter square round each tree. It is kept bare by hoeing with a good draw hoe during the summer.
With the first 4000 I sprayed with a back pack winter (prior to planting) spring and Autumn This year I did 8500 just once + 4000 ready for this winter's planting. I absolutely loath the job! If each one takes 10 seconds to do, then with 12,500 thats 35 hours non stop. I'm in the middle of beautiful Derbyshire and for 2 solid weeks all I see is a 1 metre patch of grass. GGGGrrrrrrrr

9. Any problems from humans? Our plantation is well hidden and so far have had no vandalism. We belong to the Dorset branch of International Tree Foundation, which supply us with information, volunteers and enthusiasm. We spend about 3 hours on the field every day.
None. Like you we're in the middle of nowhere. A contact i have who works with an urban tree planting project expects around 40% losses

10. What do you do about publicity? We've been on radio, TV and the local newspaper. We have Radio Solent coming down in a weeks time to interview us for a 10 minute slot with Pippa Greenwood. They seem intrigued by the Sherwood Forest angle.
I avoid it, although my son got a bit with a little venture he had. http://www.sheffieldtoday.net/ViewArticle2.aspx?SectionID=58&ArticleID=1542884.

11. I'd love to come and have a look at your wood if I'm ever up in Derbyshire. You are most welcome to look round my Reserve and Plantation if you are ever in Dorset.
You are very very welcome and I would love to see yours.
Do please keep in touch.
Best wishes Chris

Subject: Re: Oak Wood
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 15:34:44 EDT

Hi John,

some better pics. Ive saved them as bmp files rather than jpegs perhaps you'll be able to read them better.

From multimap aerial photo
1. 2 fields about 4.5 acres tot. 1st year planting 3920 trees
2 . biggest field 5 acres 4500 trees planted out last winter.
3. 4th field all set out and ready to plant this winter 4000 trees
4. about 1.5 acres of Norway spruce to fell and replant with NBL [Native Broad Leaves] before 2011

blue line = Hodge Lane Brook - the start of the River Amber. between the river and the fields is the 25yr old wood.

Do you anticipate squirrel problems, and what do you plan? We have a few, and may have to get local farmers with shotguns to help in the future. At the moment only caterpillars (Buff tip moth) and the usual mildew and oak gall parasites interfere.

I'm not sure how squirrels will effect the trees (I shoot them anyway. I just dislike them)
As for moths and wasps, they dont bother me. They are afterall part of the reason for planting the trees.

I understand you are working full time, don't know how you find the time to maintain your fields. We are retired and can visit every day when the weather is OK. However, we have no children to hand our wood on to, and are 66 already!

Not quite full time. I went onto a 3 day week last November so I could spend more time on the fields. The trees are taking over my life!!


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