Forestry project guide: ground preparation

There are many constraints that can apply to construction projects in forested areas, and in most cases you will need to submit a forestry Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) application before work begins.

Guidance from the Forestry Commission advises submitting a Stage 1 EIA application to find out whether the Commission thinks your project will have significant environmental impact or not.

If appropriate, you can then submit a Stage 2 EIA, also known as an Application for Consent, which will usually include a full Environmental Statement.

Do I need to submit an EIA?

Some smaller projects do not need even a Stage 1 EIA, if it is very unlikely that they will negatively impact the environment.

However, failure to submit an EIA for a project that requires one can lead to enforcement action by the Forestry Commission.

Among the possible sanctions, you may be ordered to restore the land to its previous condition at your own expense – so it’s always worth being sure of whether or not you need to submit a Stage 1 EIA at the very least.

Ensuring access

Works in forested areas are often affected by rights of access. This can include access for neighbouring communities, as well as public footpaths and other rights of way.

If your work is likely to disrupt any public rights of way, you should plan ahead to restore access or to provide temporary alternatives.

Timber mats are an eco-friendly way to do this, using materials sensitive to the surrounding environment to create solid temporary roads and paths, or to cover any small channels dug as part of the work.

Habitat and ground protection

Generally speaking, it’s best practice to leave minimal lasting impact on habitats, and that includes preventing damage to soils using ground protection mats.

These reduce the amount of boggy mud left behind by heavy vehicles accessing a rural location, and can also prevent contamination if you spill fuel, oil or other fluids during the work.

And because timber mats are made of materials with low intrinsic value, there should be no impact on your site insurance costs, making them an ideal option for remote jobs where perimeter security might be difficult to set up fully.

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