Managing woodlands on the UK military training estate

My name is Ross Guyton and I am one of Landmarc’s team of rural maintenance manager. I cover the East Region and my primary role is to ensure the safe, prudent and cost effective delivery of all of the rural works in the area, including those for nature and habitat conservation.



Nationally, Landmarc is responsible for some 190,000 hectares of land across the Ministry of Defence’s UK military training estate, which includes around 21 million trees. This means that we are required to undertake all aspects of woodland and tree management, from establishing new woodland through to sustainable harvesting and restocking.

In the East, I manage around 2,000 hectares of woodland, the majority of which is located on Stanford Training Area, near Thetford in Norfolk.  Its makeup is approximately 60 per cent broadleaved species, predominantly oak, and 40 per cent conifer, predominantly Pine. The overall age structure is semi-mature to fully mature, although a phased woodland restructuring programme, through clear felling operations and subsequent restocking, is now being introduced.

These clear fells are important because not only do they help to improve the woodland structure and allow new trees to grow but they also provide a continued, sustainable income that can be reinvested back into the estate, helping to create much needed military training features as the woodlands grow and mature.

Nationally, over the last four years, we have harvested over 70,000 tonnes of timber, equating to 2,800 lorry loads. This generated over £1 million, which has been reinvested through nearly 100 different projects. This financial year, we have been able to restock around 115 hectares of woodland with 177,830 conifers and 40,495 broadleaved trees at various locations across the country.

As well as supporting the forestry harvesting programme, I’m also currently involved with a number of other environmental projects including:

  • The creation of a new 10 hectare woodland block on Stanford Training Area that is being planted with 22,000 Scots Pine and Douglas Fir trees. There will also be additional woody shrubs around the edges for improved woodland structure and to increase species diversity.
  • Preserving the historical Yardley Chase Parkland in Northamptonshire by controlling the invasive thistles and maintaining oak trees that have recently been planted from local ancient tree seed to foster the ancient parkland trees for the long term future.
  •  Significant scrub and tree clearance from around newly discovered Scheduled Ancient Monuments in Norfolk to help preserve them for the future. 
  • Controlling a significant area of invasive Himalayan Balsam from along the Roman River in Essex to allow the natural grasses and vegetation to prosper.
  • Creating new and maintaining existing Woodlark cultivation plots to encourage increased nesting activity from this important protected bird species. 
As this current planting season comes to an end, the last few trees from a total of more than 66,000 planned for East are being planted on Stanford Training Area and will be completed in the very near future.  These trees will form part of the very fabric of this training estate and eventually provide essential military training features for many years to come.

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