Knockman Wood is a large area of upland oak woodland owned by FCS. The woodland extends to approximately 210 hectares, 165 hectares of which are the subject of a 25-year management agreement with CVCWT. On the doorstep of Newton Stewart it has long been used by local walkers who have enjoyed its tranquillity, wildlife and archaeological sites.
Knockman is an ancient semi-natural woodland formerly dominated by oak and hazel. During the 19th century the woodland was underplanted with beech and sycamore, both introduced species. Recent management by CVCWT has involved the removal of seedlings and young growth of these species. Mature trees however, have become important landscape features and have been left.
Knockman became a deer park in 1824 after General Sir William Stewart constructed the deer dyke, now an impressive archaeological feature! During the 1980’s the new owners, the Forestry Commission (FCS) recognised the considerable damage being done to trees by the high numbers of grazing fallow deer. FCS excluded them from the old woodlands by erecting two large deer fenced areas.
In 2005 CVCWT acknowledged that the fences, having done their job, should be taken down and removed. The regeneration of hazel and rowan is now prolific and both roe and fallow deer are roaming the woodlands. The deer hopefully will graze the rampant brambles but, unfortunately they avoid the seedling beech. A temporary deer fence, to the north of the main woodland path, has been constructed to encourage the natural regeneration of hazel and rowan beneath the open oak woodland. A series of small temporary deer fences have been constructed in the central area of Knockman where the conifer crop was removed and a mosaic of native broadleaved trees have been planted in these exclosures by community volunteers.
Over 500 metres of paths have been upgraded and drains added to improve access. New paths have been created through the open area affording stunning views across Cairnsmore and the coast. In 2010 a wood pasture walk was added in the north of the woodland to link up with Barclye (part of the Wood of Cree).
Boxes to support breeding bats and birds have been installed by volunteers and these are monitored regularly. Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, Blue Tits and Great Tits regularly make use of the bird boxes and even Nuthatches have been recorded.
Bracken management is carried out on the sites of the medieval villages. Bracken covered areas within the woodlands are managed to improve the habitat for Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly populations.
The Sitka spruce and Norway spruce plantations within Knockman wood have been felled, exposing some of the old farmstead walls and old oak trees. The upgraded car parking area is signposted at Boreland Cottage, off the main Minnigaff to Wood of Cree road and is approximately 200metres along the forest track.
There are two interpretation signs at the woodland access points together with a number of attractive wildlife interpretation boards along the path. Sycamore trees have been thinned and a number left standing following chemical treatment to produce standing dead timber. Deadwood has become a rare feature in woodlands and is being restored to attract a range of invertebrates and fungi.
- Maintain nature and interpretation boards
- Maintain paths
- Interpretation of the archaeological sites
- Maintain corn kiln
- Maintain deer fences
- Plant broadleaves
- Remove exotic tree seedlings
- Remove conifer regeneration
- Carry out woodland surveys