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Chestnut coppicing - an alternative to the 15 or 18 year cycle

Chestnut coppicing – an alternative to the 15 or 18 year cycle

by Angus ~ 29 January, 2019 ~ 2 comments

In Kent and East Sussex there are thousands of acres of chestnut coppice (see featured and last image).  That means fairly uniform sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa), where every 15 or 18 years the stems are all cut off to create poles mostly used for fencing materials.  Chestnut is a hardwood and splits well.  The cutting is done in sections (“cants”) and the corners of each section are often marked by leaving a stem which is cut at about 1.5 metres above ground level.   The great benefit of this sort of woodland is that it is very productive and the trees do not need replanting after felling - the coppice just sprouts back from the same roots or “plate”. Read more...

Help - they've felled my wood

Help – they’ve felled my wood

by Angus ~ 24 January, 2019 ~ 12 comments

Arriving at our woodland after an absence of some time I was devastated to find that a whole section of it had been felled.  I hadn't given permission and it’s not what I wanted at all.  Hundred-year-old oaks and big ash trees had gone.  Oh, and there were the stumps of those beautiful beech trees which I’d loved.  To tell the truth I was quite emotional.  I cried, and then I was angry.  Then I was frustrated, knowing that whatever the explanation it wouldn’t bring back the trees.  Even if I replanted them - which of course I would - the new trees wouldn’t reach maturity in my lifetime.

The explanation turned out to be as prosaic as it was disappointing Read more...

A northern forest

A northern forest

by Angus ~ 18 January, 2019 ~ comments welcome

There is a plan to create a massive northern forest in the UK.  There is a logic behind this in that the UK has only some 13% woodland / forest cover.  This is low as compared to the european average.   More trees will result in more carbon dioxide being absorbed from the atmosphere, helping with global warming, and also helping the Government meet its 2050 carbon emissions targets.  The trees will also hopefully enhance the environment, providing habitats and niches for many plants and animals; including us, offering places to walk and unwind.

The plan is to dramatically increase the woodlands and tree cover along the M62 corridor Read more...

‘Waste’ Materials to landfill, coffee grounds.

‘Waste’ Materials to landfill, coffee grounds.

by Lewis ~ 5 January, 2019 ~ one comment

A recent woodlands blog discussed the millions of Christmas trees that end up as landfill material.  This is also true for a material that is generated in cafes and restaurants across the U.K - the ‘waste material’ is coffee grounds. Coffee is the second largest traded commodity after petroleum.  One estimate suggests that six million tonnes of spent coffee grounds go to landfill every year.  Landfill sites account for a fifth of the UK’s methane emissions; methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas associated with global warming & climate change. Read more...

discarded Christmas tree

Recycling Christmas Trees 

by Chris ~ 1 January, 2019 ~ 2 comments

Each year, some eight million ‘natural’ Christmas Trees [which may be Norway Spruce or Silver Fir or Nordmann Fir  or Scots Pine] are bought in the U.K; it is estimated that several million of these end up in landfill.   When a tree ends up in landfill, it costs the local authority as they have to pay for every tonne of waste sent to landfill. Whilst consigning them to landfill is better than them being discarded in local streets or left on pavements etc, the needles and wood of the trees take time to decompose [think of the soft cushion underfoot when walking through a pine woodland]. Also, the process of decomposition releases significant quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Sometimes the councils have schemes so that the trees are shredded / chipped to create material that can be used as mulch / weed suppressant / soil conditioner. Read more...

Shellfish, fires and forest productivity

Shellfish, fires and forest productivity

by Chris ~ 30 December, 2018 ~ comments welcome


The loss of woodlands and forest across the world is but another example of human interference with natural ecosystems.    Tropical forests are raided for their exotic hardwoods or subject to wholesale clearing for ‘cash crops’ e.g. oil palms.  However, it would seem that this destruction is nothing new.    

Professors Kaplan and Kolen have analysed soils for ash and suggested that the early (hunter-gatherer) settlers in Europe lit fires to clear the ‘wildwood’ so that grassland or more open woodland / steppe-like areas would develop.    Read more...

UK Forest Market Report - timber and forestry prices on the increase

UK Forest Market Report – timber and forestry prices on the increase

by Angus ~ 30 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Timber prices last year went up 28%.  This is according to the report that John Clegg and Tilhill forestry put together for the year ending September 2018.  The increase was driven by exchange rate changes and increases in demand for traditional wood-using industries such as sawmilling, board production and biomass for renewable energy.  "Virgin wood burnt as biomass accounts for four million tonnes a year now," according to Tilhill's Peter Whitfield.
The industry has also been helped by the improvement in timber processing plants such as Norbord in Inverness, James Jones in Lockerbie and British Soft Woods (BSW) at Fort William.  A single investment of £95 million by Norbord in 2017 was equivalent to twice the usual annual investment in timber processing plant.

The Tilhill/Clegg report also shows how demand has driven up land prices so that even for large woodlands (over 50 acres) in Wales the average selling price is almost £5,000 per acre.  Looking at the mixed woodlands market more generally on average these sell for 10% above the guide price and the big factors which push up values are Read more...

"Carbon Weevils", a Woodland owner's film about carbon emissions by Tim Britton

“Carbon Weevils”, a Woodland owner’s film about carbon emissions by Tim Britton

by Angus ~ 3 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Tim Britton is the owner of a small woodland where he tries to promote species diversity through what he calls "low key management".  He's created a wildflower meadow, manages several small ponds and keeps a handful of Jacobs sheep.  Tim pursues a lifestyle which is as low-carbon as possible and he heats his house with a wood-burner, using wood from his woodland.  He also minimises his carbon footprint, like many people, by never flying, growing a lot of his own vegetables and travelling by bike and public transport.  He's also been keeping bees for 35 years.

"We're the only creature on earth that's evolved to sniff out the Carbon deposits, dig them out and convert them at high speed into Carbon Dioxide - so bringing our own distinct geological era"  points out Tim Britton.  His film is a response to behaviour which releases carbon and is creating the emerging environmental catastrophe:  "I'm hoping my film, 'Carbon Weevils', will get people to think of themselves in a different light - by taking a step sideways we can laugh and be slightly embarrassed at the same time.  I think serious stuff wrapped up in humour is a good way to get people thinking - and I hope it's just a small nudge towards changing minds." Read more...

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