The Shropshire Hills Woodlands Project ran from September 2009 to March 2013, with funding mainly from The Woodland Trust and Defra. The project focused on improving the condition of existing woodlands in the Shropshire Hills AONB and offered practical advice on restoration through management, or extension through new woodland creation. The project concentrated on the restoration of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS). The aim with these is generally to encourage a gradual move towards more natural woodland, and where appropriate with a supply of wood fuel or other wood products. In addition the project focused on smaller woods which are not part of estate forestry arrangements or grant schemes. The project achieved over 100 advisory site visits and completed 36 woodland management plans, some of which led to grants for practical management work.
Woodlands are an important part of the Shropshire Hills landscape. Many are ancient woods or have surviving remnants of ancient woodland. These are one of our oldest land uses and most diverse ecosystems, having taken hundreds if not thousands of years to develop and are virtually irreplaceable. Most woodlands benefit ecologically from some active management, which often includes taking a sustainable harvest of wood. Many small woodlands in particular are hard to manage due to difficult access or steep slopes.
There remains great potential to improve the management of many smaller or neglected woods in the Shropshire Hills. Though the AONB Partnership is no longer able to offer an advisory service following the end of this project, Heartwoods based at Ironbridge may be able to help, along with various commercial advisers.