Dartmoor’s Forest Future




The Open Spaces Society,(1) Britain’s oldest national conservation body, has called for greater replacement of conifer trees with native broadleaves in the Dartmoor forests, clearance of trees from ancient monuments, and an open debate about the future of the forest estate.

The society was responding to the Forestry Commission’s consultation on its Dartmoor Forest Plan, 2016-2026.

Says Kate Ashbrook, the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘We deeply regret that we were not informed about this consultation, which originally ran until 1 April.  We only learnt about it by chance and that it had been extended to 25 July.  In view of our interest in Dartmoor’s commons and open spaces, we are surprised that the Forestry Commission did not consult us.

‘However, we have now put in our response.  We consider that the Forestry Commission plantations (Bellever, Fernworthy, Soussons and Brimpts) are a severe blot on the landscape of the Dartmoor National Park, with their straight dark edges which jar with the sweeping lines of the moor.  The rides through them continue to be monotonous for walkers and riders.

‘We appreciate that the Forestry Commission intends to increase the proportion of broadleaves, but only by 1 % I in 10 years and 3% in 30, which is not enough.  We should like to see particular attention paid to the hard edges of the forests and the rides.

‘Moreover the Forestry Commission should reconvene the successful working party on ancient monuments to ensure that the historic landscape beneath the trees is properly recognised and protected.

‘We believe there should be a full and open discussion about the future of the forest estate.  This should include consideration of the percentages of conifers to be replaced and whether the land should be managed as open glades with regeneration of heather, or whether it should be planted with broadleaved trees—or some other option in keeping with national park purposes.

‘We should be pleased to be involved, and hope that the Forestry Commission will open up the debate and invite everyone with an interest to take part.  The forests occupy a significant area of the national park and we all have a stake in them.’


Notes for editors


1          The Open Spaces Society was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body.  It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.

Kate Ashbrook

General Secretary

The Open Spaces Society

25a Bell Street

Henley-on-Thames RG9 2BA

email: hq@oss.org.uk

website www.oss.org.uk

The Open Spaces Society is a registered charity (no 1144840) and a company limited by guarantee, registered in England & Wales (no 7846516).



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2 thoughts on “Dartmoor’s Forest Future

    • The conifers do tend to be concentrated in the central belt of Dartmoor, so the great wild bits north and south are still wild and free – though military training restricts access to the north, Regards John B.


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