Crowthorne Road woodland project
We are beginning a long-term project to remove pine trees from a woodland in Bracknell. The pine trees will be replaced with native varieties to make a better habitat for wildlife, a place more enjoyable for recreation and provide a sustainable source of timber. This is part of a wider aim to regenerate council managed coniferous forestry plantations throughout the borough.
This woodland regeneration project is a pine woodland that runs either side of Crowthorne Road (A3095) in a north to south direction between Nine Mile Ride (B3430) and the Hanworth roundabout.
The plan below shows which of the pine trees will be removed. Some areas will have the existing pine thinned by up to 30% whilst other areas will have all the pine removed to prepare for new planting.
The preparation will start in September 2019. It is anticipated that the whole scheme (apart from new planting) will take 2 to 3 weeks at the most (weather dependent). The planting of new trees will start in late autumn and early winter.
The work will involve operatives using chainsaws to fell and cut-up trees, which will then be removed from site by lorry. To make sure that noise levels are managed, works will be restricted to specific hours of the day.
Reason for the scheme
A public consultation of residents indicated concerns about the sustainability of local forestry plantations. These pine plantations were planted before the development of Bracknell. They have since come into the ownership of the council.
The pines in this location were planted as a commercial plantation some 55 to 65 years ago. Pines naturally deteriorate over time, as they cannot be effectively pruned to improve their stability or extend their age in a safe condition. Keeping these trees is therefore not a sustainable option.
According to an independent survey (Bluesky), Bracknell Forest is one of the leafiest areas in the UK with around 40% of land covered with trees. We recognise the value of woodland in the borough and the importance of preserving this important resource, which is why we’re replacing the trees with a broadleaved variety.
A mix of broadleaved species will be more beneficial to wildlife and they will be more resistant to pest and diseases. A mixed woodland will also be more resilient to climate change.
Managing the scheme
We will be:
- removing non-native species such as rhododendron ponticum to allow the natural re-generation of native species
- thinning out specific areas of pine trees
- removing certain groups of pine trees
- planting new native woodland trees and shrubs to establish a bio-diverse, resilient future woodland environment (such as Oak, Sweet Chestnut, Birch, Beech, Holly, Hazel, Mountain Ash, Hawthorn, Spindle and Crab Apple)
We will not be keeping or replacing the old chestnut-paling fence as in many places it has collapsed. It will not benefit the planting plan or present an attractive feature.
Disruption to the highway
All access points to the woodland will be from public open spaces and the highway. There will be minimum disruption to traffic on Crowthorne Road and the residential roads adjoining the woodland.
Impact on wildlife
An assessment of the woodland has taken place to verify any potential impact on wildlife currently occupying the site. The initial assessment did not identify any species that need special measures before the proposed work.
A further assessment will be made shortly before start of operations to check for any species that might have occupied the site since the initial assessment.
Impact on the water table
The underlying soil-type of this woodland is mostly sandy and free-draining. This means there will be almost no impact on any geological water sources and no adverse impact on either the woodland area or nearby properties and roads.
Impact on noise levels
We are taking the possibility of noise increases seriously. During the works we will be conducting a sound monitoring exercise to document the effect of the removal of the trees and evergreen shrubs.
Proposed improvements to the road are scheduled for early 2020. It is planned to resurface both Hanworth and Golden Retriever junctions, and the A3095 between the 2 junctions as part of the improvement works. This will provide a new smooth surface which will help reduce tyre noise. Acoustic fencing is also being considered in the area where the carriageway is becoming significantly closer to the housing estates.
Where clear-felling is to happen, we will be increasing the structural diversity of the new woodland. The visual barrier produced by the additional planting will reduce the effect of being able to see the road. This will also be helped by increased white noise produced by broadleaved species as the wind moves through their leaves.
We are starting a borough-wide comprehensive forest management plan which will progressively replace the existing conifer plantations to broadleaf species. This will keep the landscape of existing woodlands while changing plantations into diverse woodlands of the future.
During this process, which will take decades, the quality of the woodland can be improved by adding more tree species of varying ages and sizes and controlling invasive species. This will lead to an improved habitat for an increased variety of insects, birds and mammals.
Exactly when the next phase of the scheme will start has yet to be determined. This will be affected by a number of factors, not least by the success of the replacement tree planting, but also council resources and support from the public.