BMC New Woodland Plan for Harrison's Rocks

by Harrison's Rocks Management Group Dec/2010
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The BMC (British Mountaineering Council) have recently acquired the Harrison's Rocks site and now wish to develop the woodland, both to enhance the environment, regenerate the woodland and improve the condition of the rock face. The HRMG (Harrison's Rocks Management Group) is a sub group of the BMC run by volunteers to supervise and help protect the woodland and cliff environment.

A Woodland Plan has been drawn up in conjunction with a recommended Forestry Commission Woodland Agent Jonathan Webb and with a Forest Expert and Tree Surgeon Tony Flint. An outline of the plan is on the Sandstone Volunteer Group website where you can view the full plan (42 pages plus three appendices including maps).

All climbers are stakeholders of the woodland site and the rocks. As part of the plan that will be sent into the Forestry Commission for ratification in 10 days time, the Harrison's Rocks Management Group are asking for climbers to make comment as a part of the consultation section 5 of the plan.

All they ask is that you read the outline plan below (alternatively, if you feel like wading through the 42 pages of the full plan then please be entertained). Please make a comment on the plan whether in agreement with it or whether you have issues with it. Replies must be sent in by email to m@holisticyoga.org within the 10 days.

Those in climbing clubs or groups can help by distributing to their members and preparing a summary reply with a note the number of members in the group or club.

More replies means that the plan will easily pass scrutiny by the FC and allow the BMC to implement the plan for a regenerated Harrisons.


Harrison's Rocks Woodland - Management Plan (Outline)

Vision

To manage the woodland to protect the cliff environment, to give better views for walkers across the valley, and to regenerate the health of the woodland to support more fauna and flora.

Harrison's Rocks in the 1940s

+Harrison’s Rocks in the 1940s, 105 kb

As it is today (note the leaning conifer)

+As it is today (note the leaning conifer), 120 kb

Background

Ownership of Harrison's Rocks and the adjacent woodland (marked in green on the map overleaf) was transferred to the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) in September 2009. Previously it had been owned by Sport England, and managed by the BMC. The BMC now wish to develop the woodland, both to enhance the environment and to improve the condition of the rock face.

Objective

To enhance the beauty of Harrison' Rocks for all. To restore the rock face to a climbable state, consistent with minimizing environmental damage and maximizing the scenic grandeur of the location.
To remove completely all non-native species and the invasive bracken on the slopes below the rocks, which currently prevents other flora from flourishing. Over 5 years to reduce the canopy of trees by 60-70% to increase light to the lower storey and encourage plants and animals at the field and ground level. One area (at least 15%) is to be earmarked for a special objective of biodiversity. Some more and different scrub trees will be added all along the sandy slope. More specifically, more trees will be planted in the south western corner of the woodland to preserve the privacy of the small Forge Farm hamlet. A 10-metre corridor at the base of the cliff face will be developed, which together with a five year rotation for coppicing/ pollarding trees on the lower slopes will enable the cliff to receive enough wind and sun to keep it dry.

Work Plan

To divide the woodland into 5 distinct compartment areas for regeneration to give a five year rolling plan. Most of the work will be carried out in the winter months of each year from November through to March. The work will be carried out partly voluntarily by climbers and partly by professional tree surgeons. The first section to be worked on will be the corridor below the cliff and the central section. Work is planned to start early in the new year.
All non-native species such as Sycamore and Rhododendrons will be removed, but not the two large evergreen Douglas Firs which are magnificent trees. Any suppressed trees that have overgrown each other will also be removed. The scrub layer (Hazel, Holly, Ash and Field Maple) will be coppiced in rotation to encourage more light to get to the field and ground layer. Some of the oaks and beech will be crown lifted to let more light into the wood, and the trees like Ash and Birch nearer the rocks but down the slope will be thinned and those remaining coppiced or pollarded to a lower height.
The high canopy of trees and scrubs will be reduced by 60-70% to increase light to the lower storey and encourage plants and animals at the field and ground level. Existing wildlife will be considered and new fauna and flora will be encouraged. Roosting positions for bats will be monitored to ensure that they are retained. Standing dead wood will remain and habitat piles will be created with some of the cut wood to promote fungus and moss growth at the ground level.

The Next Steps

A Woodland Plan has been drawn up for approval by the Forestry Commission (FC), but to enable all interested parties to contribute, we are consulting widely before submitting it. The plan will be put on the FC website for a period of six weeks.

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Send comments to Malcolm McPherson, South Wing, Oak Hall Manor, Sheffield Park, East Sussex, TN22 3QY email m@holisticyoga.org phone 01823 791682, mobile 07711 665353

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