PART of a Somerset estate, gifted to a national charity following the death of its owner, will be transformed to demonstrate productive woodland management. 

Woodland Heritage (WH) will develop a 25-hectare section of James Wood, in Stogumber, into a fitting legacy for James Stratton. 

Shortly before his death in 2019, James and his parents, Martin and Suzette, who had become his executors, outlined his wish to create a new woodland, ideally of at least 20 ha in size.

A WH statement read: “For a charity keen to demonstrate ‘uneven aged silviculture’, the site for James Wood provides great potential, combining non-designated, species-poor grassland and former arable open ground with blocks of established woodland, as well as some 20-year-old plantations in need of management.  

“James Stratton’s legacy has enabled Woodland Heritage to not only buy the land at Stogumber, but also to have funds available to undertake much of the planting and other management works on the new and existing woodland for years to come. 

“James Wood will also be helped greatly by securing support under the England Woodland Creation Offer, a grant scheme to which Woodland Heritage is in the process of applying with the support of Pryor and Rickett Silviculture.”

Ideas for the planting, which may start as early as winter 2022/23, have developed and are likely to combine a fairly conventional approach with one that tries to establish what novel species could thrive at the site.