Woodland pasture

Burnham Beeches, one of the few woodland pastures in BuckinghamshireWoodland pasture consists of large open-grown or high forest trees at variable densities, found on grazed grassland, heathland and/or woodland. Tree management, usually by pollarding, has often helped to produce the characteristic appearance, while grazing by domestic livestock, deer or rabbits maintains the vegetation. The shape of woodland pasture can vary; many are curvilinear in pattern although most are delineated by long established wood banks. Wood pasture is very rare in Buckinghamshire due to modern practices of land management and animal husbandry. A few examples do remain in the county, at Burnham Beeches and also at Penn Wood, where the practice of wood pasture is being reintroduced.


The origins of wood pasture land use almost certainly stretch back into prehistory. By the 11th century many parishes held rights to detached woodlands which would have been used in this way. It is therefore likely that many of the woodlands interpreted as ancient semi natural or ancient replanted have been used as wood pasture for much of their history.


Woodland pasture has high potential for well preserved archaeological remains of woodland management and industries including charcoal hearths, saw pits, quarries and small settlements. There is also evidence for historic woodland management, in the form of pollard and coppiced trees.