Management of the town's woodlands is carried out in line with a series of 5-year plans which are drawn up and agreed with the Forestry Commission.
In the early years felling of the neglected and overgrown hornbeam coppice was carried out followed by replanting with timber species trees such as pine and beech. This policy has changed in recent years as the value of the locally native hornbeam woodland to wildlife has been recognised and there is now a programme of re-coppicing and re-instatement.
The present five-year plan states that the town's woodlands will be managed in order to provide recreation and amenity for local residents and also to ensure their survival in a manner benefiting both the landscape of the town and local wildlife.
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How old are the woodlands?
Most of these were farm woodlands that were retained by the planners of the new town as landscape features and areas for recreation. They were mainly composed of neglected hornbeam coppice with standard ash and oak trees.
Many of these woodland areas are designated as ancient woodland sites, which is a nationally agreed designation and means that the land that they occupy has been wooded since at least 1600 AD.
The species of tree and the composition of the wood however is not natural, having been altered by management and new plantings over the centuries.
The spectacular display of bluebells each spring is evidence of the age of the woodlands as it takes hundreds of years, without disturbance, for bluebells to spread and grow this thickly.
Stevenage Direct Services
Stevenage Borough Council