National Character Area 49

Sherwood - Landscape Change

The full NCA Profile landscape change page, is temporarily unavailable until publication of the Defra 25 Year Environment Plan Indicator G1 later in May 2024.

Monitoring Landscape Change

Drivers for change
The Sherwood is a gently rolling well-wooded landscape sitting atop sandstone hills and is subject to various pressures, including recreation and development. Summer droughts may increase the vulnerability of characteristic ancient oak woodland and heathland, while veteran trees become more susceptible to damage and pests. Additionally, the NCA is under pressure from over-abstraction of its aquifer and changing land management practices.

Monitoring landscape change
This section is temporarily unavailable until publication of the Defra 25 Year Environment Plan Indicator G1 later in May 2024.

Additional information on landscape change

Landscape change reported in 2014

Recent changes and trends (reported in 2014)


  • Agriculture is dominated by cropping, but the increase in grassland area up to 2003 (as shown in the Countryside Quality Counts work) has since turned into a 12 per cent decrease, according to the agricultural census This data also shows a decrease in sheep and cattle, although the number of pigs increased by 15 per cent. There has also been an increase in the area farmed for oilseeds and vegetables, but a decrease in the area of cash root crops.

Boundary features

  • With previous agricultural expansion, some hedgerow patterns have been lost, and the remaining hedges are often low and over-clipped, in particular on the more intensive arable. Between 1999-2003 Countryside Stewardship capital agreements for linear features included fencing (6 km), hedge management (14 km), hedge planting and restoration (45 km), restored boundary protection (18 km). The estimated boundary length for Sherwood is about 2,670 km meaning only about 3 per cent of field boundaries (hedges) were covered by agreements between 1999 and 2003. The length of hedgerows in Environmental Stewardship boundary management in 2011 is 689 km, with 36 km of woodland and 14 km of ditch in environmental stewardship boundary management schemes.

Coast and rivers

  • The Sherwood aquifer underlies much of the area, and abstraction levels are above those needed to achieve ‘good status’ in line with the Water Framework In particular the River Idle is over-abstracted. So while biological and chemical water quality is generally very good, there are issues with possible deterioration through over-abstraction and nutrient inputs.

Historic features

  • There are extensive historic estates and parklands in the Dukeries to the south- west of Worksop, but there are also pockets of estate land amidst the arable Just over half of the parkland is covered by agreements. It is estimated that about 80 per cent of historic farm buildings remain unconverted.


No information available.

Semi-natural habitats

  • Semi-natural habitats are limited in extent within this Some 1,768 ha (just over 3 per cent) is designated for nature conservation, and of this approximately 11 per cent is in favourable, and 82 per cent in unfavourable recovering condition (Feb 2010). Up to 2003 the most extensive agri-environment agreements were for maintaining heath and lowland pastures on neutral / acid soils, and re-creating heath.

Settlement and development

  • There is evidence of expansion of the urban fringe around Mansfield, Rainworth and Calverton, and development pressures continue to transform many parts of the There is marked dispersed development between Ollerton, East Retford and Worksop, while the A1 upgrading has had an impact in the north of the area.

Trees and woodlands

  • Woodland is a significant feature in the landscape, with 22 per cent coniferous and broadleaved woodland cover forming strong patterns. The area of woodland covered by Woodland Grant Schemes went up from 8 per cent to 13 per cent between 1990 to Only 875 ha is ancient woodland, and the proportion of these sites covered by WGS has gone down, from 37 per cent to 23 per cent. Some planting has occurred within the Community Forest area around Hucknall, Blidworth and Mansfield, which is of local significance as the blocks of planting are large.

Drivers of Change (reported in 2014)

Climate Change

  • Climate trends suggesting increased rainfall, periods of drought, and more frequent storm events.
  • Over-abstraction of the aquifer is already an issue and may become a greater problem with hotter and drier summers.
  • A changing climate, in particular summer droughts, is likely to increase the vulnerability of the iconic ancient oak woodland and heathland, with veteran trees increasingly vulnerable to damage, pests and Heathland will become more vulnerable to bracken incursion, drought and fire.
  • Sandy acid soils may be more vulnerable to damage such as increased erosion through wind-blow and run-off, along with nutrient loss and decreased soil microbial activity.

Other key drivers

  • Development pressures around the urban areas and commuter villages are likely to New developments provide opportunities to ensure a high standard of design and a contribution to green infrastructure.
  • The area is likely to remain attractive for recreation, with good access to nature along with opportunities for environmental education and understanding our heritage; this is both a challenge and an opportunity.
  • The need for food security will result in continued agricultural production, along with changing farming practices, which may impact on ecological habitats, networks and species, as well as landscape Agri- environment schemes provide opportunities to work with land managers to incorporate farmland habitats, develop networks of linked habitats and enhance the rural character of the landscape.
  • Increased agricultural production may impact on the quality of the soils and will need careful management.
  • Restoration of sites affected by the industrial past will provide opportunities to enhance biodiversity and the landscape, whilst ensuring that the legacy of the industrial heritage remains legible within the landscape.
  • Sherwood NCA contains many rare species and valuable habitats, including an internationally significant collection of veteran oaks and one of the few UK populations of the Hazel Pot Conserving these features, along with the overall landscape character and historic legacy, from the pressures of climate change, recreation and changing land management processes will remain key concerns within Sherwood.