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A Model for Sustainable Woodland Ownership ~ by Tom R

A Model for Sustainable Woodland Ownership

 The area of North Wales in which I grew up no doubt contributed to my interest in the natural environment.  Early memories of the raw natural beauty that surrounded me helped confirm the fact that I wanted to pursue a career aimed at conserving and protecting the incredibly diverse landscape that we are so lucky to have here in the U.K.

After spending some time working at a local tree nursery, I decided that I wanted to work with trees and woodland and so I applied to study Forest Management at the National School of Forestry. I have currently just finished my first semester and it has been one of the most interesting and exciting few months of my life. I underestimated the breadth of forestry as a subject. My eyes have really been opened to the importance of maintaining and creating sustainable woodland environments for both environmental and economical gains. The National School of Forestry has recently moved campus to Ambleside in the South Lakes. This move has brought the school into a setting that is truly inspirational for any forester.

larchesOne of the assessments set in the first semester was to conduct a report on a woodland. As a newcomer to the area, I contacted David Alty, the woodlands.co.uk area manager for Cumbria.  Upon enquiry about a suitable woodland on which to base my report, David was extremely helpful and gave me permission to survey High Birkhow, a woodland on the southern banks of Wastwater in the Wasdale Valley. When surveying the woodland, I noted the tree and ground flora species present, their age and distribution and also did a brief analysis of the variety of soils present. Using the data gathered and information on High Birkhow’s history provided by David, I was then able to create a suitable future management strategy.

I was impressed at the work carried out by woodlands.co.uk at High Birhow. The recently graded tracks, new signs, gates and ridestops are very professional and the woodland is now far more accessible. Dividing up larger areas of woodland is what makes woodlands.co.uk such an important organisation. The creation of more affordable and manageable amenity plots makes woodland ownership a reality for a higher proportion of the population.  I hope that the work carried out by woodlands.co.uk continues well into the future so that our country's woodlands can be kept in safe hands and cherished for generations to come.

Giant Douglas

Giant Douglas

Posted in: Energy, sustainability & economics, Practical Guides ~ On: 8 January, 2015

3 comments so far

13 January, 2015

Thank you Tom! What a wonderful reply & what a great attitude you have to the present & the future! I’m now trying to evoke some of your thoughts into how I next speak to my grandson. He is only 15 & already struggling with the “one hat suits all” education system. I do wish you the best for the New Year & beyond!

12 January, 2015

Hi Ashley, thank you for the kind comments. It is still quite surreal that I have the opportunity to study trees in one of the most beautiful natural environments in the country. Many people have told me that if they could go back and be presented with a similar opportunity they would not hesitate in following this path. It was however a rocky road to get here, I spent two years after college feeling slightly lost and unsure where to go and I just stumbled upon this incredible opportunity. For this reason I want to try and inspire other young people and show that there is much more to life than an office job in a city. In my final few months at college I was never shown courses such as this, I was channelled to more mainstream subjects and I think this is the main problem with the current education system. Students are grouped together and the individualism that is so important is very often lost. I really want to promote careers working with the environment as an alternative. I am positive that there are far more young people out there who would love to play a part in protecting our great natural assets.

Regarding where I will be in three years time on completion of my course, I haven’t a clue! I am keen to see how forestry differs overseas however I am a proud Brit. Forestry in Britain is unique and fascinating. We have a brilliant growing environment with mild winters and a high annual rainfall (which most Brits constantly complain about) however due to our small land area, management of woods and forests is ever more important. Wales will always have a place in my heart however I cannot predict my feelings in three years time so I’ll have to wait and see!

Thanks again and all the best for 2015!


9 January, 2015

This is an uplifting story particularly in these dark days of winter. I wish I was young again & starting out; if I had read this post then I would be tempted to follow in your footsteps. However, so much depends on one’s place in time; there were no forests or woods close to me when I was growing up. So what are your goals after college? Back to a forest or wood in Wales, or somewhere overseas? Where ever you are, good luck. Happy New Year!

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