High Forest

These are stands of trees which have grown from seedlings. Those seedlings may have come from natural regeneration or have been planted. In Britain, most high forest stands were planted. Yet in the Middle Ages, coppice and wood pasture were the normal management systems. During the 1700 and 1800s, planting to create high forest became popular and many coppices were converted to a high forest system too. In the 20th century, the expansion in tree cover has been mainly through planting to be managed on a high forest system. There are three main strategies or silvicultural systems for managing high forest:

  • clear-fell – where all the trees in a stand are felled together – the area or coupe created is usually replanted unless natural regeneration is certain.
  • shelterwood – where the stand is felled in stages or regeneration fellings – to encourage the seed from mature mother trees left to regenerate in the cut over section - the older trees are subsequently felled too.
  • selection – where felling and regeneration are done continuously by removing individual trees or small groups throughout the forest.

Most British forestry uses a clear-fell option, followed by replanting. But practices continue to change and evolve with smaller coupes, restructuring to diversify the age and species make up in the post World War II plantations and a trend towards a selection or Continuous Cover System.