Forests can shape our landscape; they can provide immeasurable appeal to rural and peri-urban areas, defining the inherent landscape character. Furthermore, the significance of design interpretation can facilitate management objectives and outcomes; particularly in proximity to centers of population. Wherein, the community has an affinity, vested interest, general interest or typically a fear of change.
Historic landscape design:
The major influence on the forest landscape was the Forestry Act 1919, and creation of the Forestry Commission (FC); there remit was to create a strategic timber reserve demanded by the war effort. Therein, catalysing a distinct shift and implementation of mass change in land use (agriculture to forestry), restructuring the native forests and species choice (conifer monoculture). Arguably the creation of ‘New Forests’ was reclamation of previously lost natural forest cover. However the methodology adopted was by todays sustainable forest management (SFM) standards, somewhat flawed.
A typical planting scheme would include non-native conifers typically Sicta Spruce (SS) or Lodgepoll Pine (LP); originating from North American sources, layed out in geometrical shapes as shown in image 1 Unnatural geometric shapes in the landscape.
During the 1960’s more emphasis was placed on landscape issues, with the rise of the global environmental movement. Methods of mitigation and inclusion we recognize today; for example origination of environmental impact assessment (EIA) during this period. Two guiding principles were adopted forests should reflect the natural land form and patterns; and visual designs adopted in other fields should be applied in forest landscapes (FC, 2011:8).
Current landscape design:
The current emphasis on participation and inclusion in forest design planning can be linked to sustainable development; an interpretation is suggested by Smith. ‘All communities and societies share the same earth with each other, whatever their differences and inequalities. The threats posed by environmental stress, uncontrolled growth and environmental impacts, in differing parts of the globe are threats that affect the future of the whole globe’ (1993:4). Furthermore, the current focus on improved human wellbeing by reconnection with the forests is a key theme being developed by government; the creation of a rejuvenated woodland culture (Defra, 2013).
Thorough identification of key stakeholders, during the informal and formal screening and scoping stages of a design plan; can ameliorate the planning timeline.
• Public: People as a whole who ever and where ever they reside, individuals and collections of individuals acting as a unit.
• Stakeholders: People with a definable association with the development area, including individuals and groups whom can influence planning decisions for example RSPB, SEPA, SNH, Ramblers Association and...