BMC New Woodland Plan for Harrison's Rocks


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 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)


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

As it is today (note the leaning conifer)


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.


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.

- Read more

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

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9 Dec, 2010
This is a huge initiative and relies heavily upon volunteer help for success. Much preparation work in the way of developing the plan, liaising with interested agencies and obtaining the necessary permissions has been done and the application is in the final stage of presentation. On the practical side, a 10m wide corridor has been cut along the crag and brash laid out to mark footpaths – done by the Sandstone Volunteers Group (SVG) earlier this year. As the plan shows, the work is to be carried out over a five year period, with designated areas being cut each year to completion. Work will then be carried out annually in rotation. At present, the cutting is planned for January and February 2011 whilst the leaves are off the trees and the crag is in its least climbable condition. Harrison’s Rocks is one of the more popular crags in the UK and literally hundreds climb there so we ought to be able to call on a huge resource of volunteers to help us. There are probably a core of 20 or so who regularly help with SVG projects – the most recent being scrub clearance at Bulls Hollow (carried out in November by Croydon Mountaineering Club) and two days of revetment work at Stone Farm Rocks (another BMC owned crag) carried out two weeks ago by SVG members. For this project to succeed we will need additional help and this is your chance to put something back into climbing benefiting yourself and future generations. We will be promoting the project at various climbing walls and retail outlets as well as at the crag(s) themselves. Please help us carry out this necessary work and put something back into climbing at Harrison’s. The work will involve moving branches and the like cut from the trees into position where they can be used to mark footpaths, moving larger branches and trunks into position for use as revetments and disposing of any left over material. If you are willing to help, please contact me via my profile here or via the SVG website Any comments are also welcome… Thanks, Graham.
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