The Douglas Fir plantation (0.85ha) in-between the Visitor Centre and Stover Lake is due to be clear-felled this Winter 2022/23. These conifer trees were planted as a crop by the Forestry Commission intended to be cut down once mature for timber products. Now a Country Park, owned by Devon County Council, Stover is no longer managed for commercial forestry however these trees still need to be felled. A Felling License has been granted by the Forestry Commission and the works will take place in accordance with the Stover Country Park Management Plan.
The Reasons :
- Biodiversity Improvements – Non-native conifer plantations do not support a wide variety of wildlife and they shade out the woodland floor preventing any plants from growing that could be used as a food source for insects, birds and mammals. Native broadleaved trees will be planted instead which support a wealth of wildlife and are more in keeping with the site. A small number of specimen conifer trees will also be planted as the new Pinetum.
- Marshland Protection – The Douglas Fir trees have reached such a height that they are now starting to shade out the valuable marsh habitat at the Lake’s edge, with potential losses to its rich variety of plants and associated insects consumed by Stover’s dragonflies, bats and birds.
- Lake Water Quality – The Douglas Fir trees, having been planted so closely together, now form dense barrier which prevents the wind from circulating over and oxygenating the Lake effectively. Also, conifer trees change the soil chemistry and the contaminated water run-off during periods of heavy rain is detrimental to the Lake’s water quality.
- Historic Landscape – Some of the historic views of the Lake will return, seen in the Eighteenth Century when James Templer purchased and landscaped the Stover Estate.
Possible Interim Use of the Area :
- If successful with the Restoring Stover Park Lottery Bid, Stover Lake will be desilted. This will have the benefit of improving the water quality and encouraging the water lilies to grow back. Once these Douglas Fir trees are felled the site will be used to store and then spread the silt from the Lake before the new trees are planted. It is estimated that the silt will break down within a year and will improve the soil structure for the new trees.
The Future :
- This is the last of the Country Park’s conifer plantations to be clear-felled. The plantation at the other end of the lake is owned by Sibelco Minerals and after recent thinning operations is not due to have any additional work carried out for at least 10 years.
- The young trees will eventually grow into a mature broadleaved woodland supporting far more wildlife species than the Douglas Fir plantation presently does and increasing biodiversity. The many wildlife benefits will become apparent as soon as the site is cleared, as the wildflower seeds contained in the soil before the conifers were planted start to shoot and grow in the sunlight providing food and habitat for birds, animals and insects.
- We apologise in advance for any inconvenience the works will cause to you all. We will endeavour to retain as much public access as possible and will advise of any footpath closures well in advance.
- Please do come and talk to the Stover Country Park Ranger Team regarding any concerns or comments you may have. Otherwise call the office on 01626 835236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and one of us will get back to you.
Your patience will be much appreciated.
Stover Country Park July 2022