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Forest and Woodland Management


If you go down to the woods...

Tameside is taking a pro-active approach to the sustainable management of its woodlands. They are one of only a handful of local authorities in the country to gain the UK Woodland Assurance Standard Link to External Website in compliance with the Forest Stewardship Council. This is an international standard which indicates that the Council is managing its woodlands sustainably in accordance with world-wide requirements.

Woodland certification is a way of independently proving that woodlands are sustainably managed with respect to economic, social and environmental criteria. The UK Woodland Assurance Standard for woodland is the equivalent to the Green Flag status given for parks and green spaces and the following sites now have this accreditation.

Ashton under Lyne

Bank Top, Coopers Ride, Knott Hill, Daisy Nook and Rocher Vale


Broad Mills, Great Wood, Back Wood and Hurst Clough


Haughton Dale, Hulme’s and Hardy Wood and Whittles Farm 


Plantation Farm,


Gower Hey Wood


Roaches and Scout Green


Staley Way, Brushes Valley and Castle Clough and Cowbury Dale in Stalybridge

The woodlands are not only a fantastic habitat for wildlife, they are an ideal teaching resource for schools and a great place to walk. Woodland management takes place to enhance the wildlife and conservation value and to provide a safe and accessible environment. Hedge-laying and Coppicing are tasks which are carried out by the Countryside Rangers


Hedgelaying as we know it today began in the 18th century. As open fields were enclosed they were marked out, first with ditches and then hedges. A hedge left to grow unchecked will eventually become a line of trees and of no use for retaining livestock. Barbed wire was unknown at that time and so ways were sought to make the hedges stock proof.

 Today hedgelayers are as much concerned with conserving our countryside as with making stock proof hedges. We now have a much greater knowledge of wildlife and how, well-managed hedges are essential to the countryside. Hedgelaying can rejuvenate existing hedgerows by encouraging them to put on new growth and helping to improve their overall structure and strength and so can give greater weather protection to crops and wildlife. Hedgelaying can also provide aesthetically pleasing screens to fields and gardens.

 The theory behind laying a hedge is easy; the practice is much harder - requiring skill and experience. The aim is to reduce the thickness of the upright stems of the hedgerow trees by cutting away the wood on one side of the stem and in line with the course of the hedge. This being done, each remaining stem is then laid down towards the horizontal, along the length of the hedge.

A stem which has been (or is to be) laid down in this manner is known as a "pleacher". A section of bark and some sapwood must be left connecting a pleacher to its roots in order to keep the pleacher alive - knowing how much is one part of the art of hedgelaying. It is also essential that pleachers are not laid down completely horizontal as some upward slant is required to ensure the sap will still rise properly through the plant - the required degree of upward slant is again a matter of skill.
Smaller shoots branching off the pleachers and upright stems too small to be used as pleachers are known as "brash" and in most styles of laying the brash will be woven between the pleachers to add cohesiveness to the finished hedge.


Coppicing is the art of cutting of trees and shrubs to ground level allowing vigorous  re-growth and a sustainable supply of timber for future generations. Coppiced tree can live many times longer than if the tree had not been cut down at all. Some trees are left to grow on, some to maturity, to give an even more varied structure and future opportunities for birds and bats to find holes to nest in.

Some trees are left to grow on, some to maturity, to give an even more varied structure and future opportunities for birds and bats to find holes to nest in.

This amount of cutting can looks drastic, but this method of management is far from new, having been used for over 1000 years in Britain. Although there is no tradition of coppice management in Tameside, for some areas it is the method that will best benefit wildlife in the future.

The cut timber is usually left on site either as ‘habitat’ piles, or as ‘chipped’ piles, the latter being preferred where the soil needs developing to become more suitable for woodland plants and animals. This though is a relatively modern practice! Back in history, almost all of the cut timber would have been used for all manner of ‘jobs’ including hurdle making for animal pens, ‘wattles’ for buildings, a constant supply of firewood, tools and tool handles and basket making.

Nowadays there is a renaissance in the ‘product’ from coppicing as people are beginning to use more charcoal for barbecues and hurdles for their gardens.


 Seeing the deadwood for the trees

Trees are some of the longest living things on our planet, but they will eventually die and through the process of decay become part of the soil from which new trees will grow. Many other living things are part of this process and rely on it for their existence, like many fungi, invertebrates, and bacteria. Others feed on these organisms, some use the softer wood to make holes which then become homes for themselves and other species.

Some trees don’t reach maturity but are affected by disease, storms etc, or are just out competed for light and nutrients by other trees and become part of this process much earlier in their lives.

Thousands of species have therefore become reliant on trees dying and decaying and it is as much a part of what woodland is, as living trees, bluebells or the wonderful colours of autumn.

But many of Britain’s woods lack the amount and continuity of supply of dead wood or dying trees needed to sustain these thousands of species, for a variety of reasons, like being managed intensively for timber and excessive tidiness and safety management.

The need to address this as part of sustainable woodland management is now well recognised, and having sufficient dead wood in a woodland is one of the criteria for UK Woodland Assurance accreditation. Tameside Council now has 19 sites with this accreditation and as part of its management is increasing and maintaining the amount of dead wood and dying trees in its woods.

Over the last few years though there has been an increasing number of incidents when logs left as dead wood have been taken from sites, which has involved the police on some occasions, as to do so is theft as well as damaging to wildlife.

To help inform people of the importance of dead and decaying wood and that people should not take logs from sites without permission, a leaflet and site information board has been produced with funding from the Forestry Commission, entitled ‘Dead but alive’. These will be in circulation soon, download a copy of the 'Dead but alive' deadwood leaflet (2.12MB).

Whilst dead wood is important and we are trying to increase the amount, dumping of branches etc on our sites is not something we welcome as it may damage or shade valuable plants like bluebell. Worse still it may have other garden waste with it and lead to invasive alien plants taking over areas of the wood. This again is not only damaging the wildlife but is illegal tipping and can lead to substantial fines.

But you can make your own dead wood piles in a shady area of your garden, and see what wildlife it attracts

Tameside Council encourage the creation of new woodlands in the right setting and are committed to improving the management of existing woodlands through its tree and woodland strategy and by working with partners and the public.

Tameside's first class management of the borough’s 18 woodlands – some of which are more than 400 years old – has been recognised by the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.

The Forestry Commission provides advice and information on trees and woodland issues to the Council, partner organisations and the public. Further information on trees in particular locations can be found on the website under 'trees'.

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Tameside Greenspace
Hyde Depot
Park Road
SK14 4JT
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0161 342 3055


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