Frequently Asked Questions

What is Opportunity Woodland?

Opportunity Woodland is the potential woodland that might be created in the landscape niche that we have identified – it is basically poorer quality agricultural land that may be on steeper slopes, is not arable and is not protected or otherwise a priority habitat. You can read about it on the Finding Land for Woodlands page.

Is the Opportunity Woodland map prescriptive?

No. The map is suggestive of where woodland creation opportunities may exist not where they must be. The map should be used as a starting point for conversations about woodland creation and it is up to landowners to undertake full site evaluations and create woodland according to statutory requirements.

What is the difference between Woodland and Small Woods?

“Woodland” has a specific meaning to the National Forest Inventory, it means areas of land that are more than half a hectare in size (5,000 square metres) and which have more than 20% tree cover. This definition doesn’t cover “Small Woods” or woodland patches less than half a hectare or individual trees in hedges or fields. To make comparisons between countries we need to use the Woodland definition. Have a look at the Woodlands page.

What is the woodland cover of England?

The Woodland cover in England is currently 10%. This compares unfavourably with Scotland and Wales and most European countries. The UK national average is 13%.

What is the woodland cover of the Chew Valley?

Whilst the Woodland cover of England compares unfavourably with other countries the Chew Valley compares unfavourably with England. The Chew Valley has just 7% cover – and that is excluding the lake area. Have a read of the Existing Woodland in the Chew Valley page.

What could the woodland cover of the Chew Valley be?

The Woodland cover of the Chew Valley could easily double to 14% or more without encroaching on arable land, protected areas or priority habitats. This can be done is a sympathetic way by making use of marginal pasture land on steep slopes and introducing trees back into the landscape where the orchards used to be.

What is Chew Valley Plants Trees?

Chew Valley Plants Trees is a community group with the objective to double tree cover in the Chew Valley to counter the dual climate and ecological emergencies. You can lean more about Chew Valley Plants Trees on their

What is an Agricultural Land Grade?

The Agricultural Land Classification System grades land according to the limitations on its use for agriculture. The Grades are numbered from 1 to 5 with one being the best quality and five the worst. Low grade land (a high number) may have qualities that make it valuable but not in terms of agriculture, for example Grade 5 land includes upland peat bogs that store a large amount of carbon. There is more information on the Agricultural Land Classification in the Chew Valley page.

How to protect Biodiverse Grasslands?

Using available data, such as the Priority Habitats Inventory, every effort has been made to avoid grasslands that may be biodiverse. However, not all such grasslands are known and it is important to undertake an ecological survey before converting any area into woodland. Have a read of Grasslands in the Chew Valley to find out more.

What about Peatland and Moors?

There are no peatlands, moors or Grade 5 agricultural land in the Chew Valley, however you don’t have to go far to find peat in the lowland Somerset Moors, also known as the Somerset Levels. At the national scale identifying peat soils is problematic because whilst the data do exist they are not in the public domain. It is therefore necessary to use a proxy dataset such as Grade 5 agricultural land or Moorline data to approximate it. Whilst this allows very large areas of peatland and moors to be excluded it is ragged at the edges as the boundary is not precisely defined in publicly available data.

What are Ecosystem Services?

Ecosystem Services are “The direct and indirect contributions of ecosystems to human wellbeing“. They are important, you can read about them on the Ecosystem Services page.

What data sets were used in the analysis?

Only freely available open-data were used in the analysis. There is a listing of the data used on the Data Sets page. These data should be used as an indicative guide and they may not be sufficient for detailed planning purposes.

Where can I get more detailed environmental for a specific site?

For a specific site you should undertake an ecological survey and may want to referent to your Local Environmental Records Centre, Wildlife Trust or the National Biodiversity Network Atlas.