Woodland management in two Yorkshire Dales since the fifteenth century
This study exammes the woodland management traditions practised In Nidderdale and Wensleydale since the 15th century to evaluate the role of woodland management as an influential factor in determining the survival of woodland in the landscape. It has found that in these two Dales, woodland management practices were a function of the distinct land-use frameworks created by monastic (Nidderdale) or seigneurial (W ensleydale) tenure. In Nidderdale, coppice woodland predominated over wood pasture to meet the requirements of the mineral-smelting activities of Fountains Abbey, whereas in Wensleydale a different form of land-use consisting of deer parks and stinted grazing pastures featured more wood pasture than coppice. Within these frameworks the function of woodland was either as a source of raw materials, or as an environment for hunting. Woodland was a resource to which the landless rural population had little access and few rights. In consequence, domestic fuel and small wood was sourced from commonland and the hedgerows that characterised parts of Nidderdale and midWensleydale prior to the Parliamentary Enclosures. During the time period covered by this research, there was, in Nidderdale, a gradual transition from the intensive coppice regimes of Fountains Abbey, to the amenity and plantation forestry enterprises of the Ingilby Estate. By contrast, in Wensleydale, the remodelling of parklandderived wood pasture into plantation forestry on the Bolton Estate occurred within the space of a few years during the late 18th century. The characteristics of woodland are related to past management, and management is a function of the outputs, or end-uses of woodland. Thus the extensive semi-natural woods that characterised a large extent of Nidderdale, prior to their conversion to coniferous plantations, were the product of a coppice management regime whose purpose was to produce charcoal or kiln-dried wood, whereas many woods in Wensleydale were primarily planted for timber production. The conclusion of this research is that it is the combination of end-uses and land tenure that characterises woodland and determines its continuity in the landscape rather than the form of woodland management employed.