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Scythe training

Scythe training

by Chris Colley ~ 31 July, 2017 ~ one comment

A May bank holiday Saturday, West Wales, and it was drizzling. Probably like most people I had preconceptions of scything as an activity performed by farm labourers in blazing sunshine, when the hay would dry best. Not the full Poldark maybe, but something similar. Like most preconceptions, it proved to be wrong in all important respects.

I had long hankered after developing two traditional skills: dry stone walling and scything. I met my needs for dry stone walling a few years ago, courtesy of the National Trust, but this May bank holiday was my opportunity to address the other. My particular need that encouraged me to move this year was planting 1300 willow and poplar as short rotation coppice, and the need to keep the grass down during year one.

Scythe Cymru, based at the Dyfed Permaculture Trust land in Penboyr, about 16 miles north west of Carmarthen run courses in scything, and sharpening and maintaining scythes, as well as providing a sharpening service used by scythe owners across the country. Read more...

Red Squirrels Find Sanctuary in my Wood

Red Squirrels Find Sanctuary in my Wood

by Peter Trimming ~ 2 February, 2017 ~ 2 comments

I purchased Snighow Wood, in Wasdale, with the intention of maintaining it as a wildlife habitat; specifically red squirrels. Formerly occupied by red squirrels, greys had moved in some years previously. The timing of my purchase (end of December 2015) was fortunate, as greys had been (largely) removed from the area about a year previously, by the West Lakes Squirrel Initiative. With the choice of three plots of woodland, I chose the one which I thought most suitable for the squirrels, and requiring the least amount of work. There was hazel to be coppiced, rhododendrons to be tackled and paths to be cleared or created! Read more...

Burning heather ?

Burning heather ?

by Lewis ~ 11 September, 2014 ~ 3 comments

Heather (Calluna vulgaris) is one of the dominant plant species of heath and moor – particularly in upland areas.   In such areas, land managers may burn back areas of heather (in a selective fashion) to create better feeding for sheep or grouse.  Left to grow, heather can form a ‘blanket’ that makes for poor grazing in a nutritional sense (more woody material – lignin, that is essentially indigestible) and can give rise to intense fires in dry, hot summers. The selective burning / rotational burning  of heather moors has been questioned in recent times as the underlying peat, and also water quality, may degrade.

Present burning practices are estimated to release energy - some 821 PJ/yr *.  However, if the U.K.’s heather was to be harvested as a biofuel or bioenergy crop**  then it could yield as much energy as 1.7 million tonnes of coal per year.   Read more...

A 'SWOG' visit to Ferriby Wood

A ‘SWOG’ visit to Ferriby Wood

by Dan ~ 27 May, 2012 ~ comments welcome

On a beautifully hot and sunny May day, Mike welcomed a group of existing and potential woodland owners to Ferriby Wood, in the Yorkshire Wolds.  The purpose of the gathering was to share experiences of woodland ownership.  Folks met at his clearing where a fire was burning and the kettle was on. After a cup of tea and an introductory chat, we set off on a guided tour.

Mike showed us how he has been managing his woodland in the five years since he bought it, looking first at a small section of coppiced ash.  He explained that he has been selling the poles to his local allotment association for use as bean poles, Read more...

Coppice and dead wood

Coppice and dead wood

by Thomas Kenny ~ 1 April, 2012 ~ 2 comments

I am currently studying for a Foundation Degree in Forestry and Woodland Management at Plumpton College in East Sussex and am preparing a dissertation on dead wood in coppice woodlands.

Coppicing is a well-known silvicultural practice, carried out in the UK for the purpose of habitat and wildlife conservation, and for sustainable timber production / products. It is widely accepted that, whilst coppicing has many benefits for conservation, ‘woodland historically managed as coppice is generally lacking in dead wood’  (FC 2002). Earlier literature such as Buckley (1992) and Kimmins (1997), supports the view that there is a general lack of dead wood presence within actively managed coppice woodlands. Read more...

My Wood

My Wood

by Matt Marples ~ 22 March, 2012 ~ 9 comments

Some of you may know me as I’m the Regional agent for East Anglia. I own my own wood and wanted to share with you my wood over the year. I’m often asked by owners on what commitment in terms of work a wood entails. This will depend on the woodland and your needs and aspirations. However, I thought it might be useful to give a regular update on my own woodland.

I’m blessed with the best wood in the world or that’s what I think. It’s my wood.   It’s called Snipes wood after one of my old dogs and it is 150 metres from my back door and surprisingly despite spending my working life in woodland - I love every moment I spend in it yet do very little work with it. First thing every morning I walk around the wood with “Stig “the dog and love seeing the sun rise as I head back for home.


Aspects of The Storm of '87.

Aspects of The Storm of '87.

by Richard ~ 7 January, 2012 ~ 2 comments

On 16th October 1987, the Great Storm took away many mature trees from the landscape of southeast England, a great swathe of destruction was wreaked on our woodland and parkland trees.  Many trees and overlarge coppice still lie where they fell, the coppice more often than not growing up again but from a much larger base.  The mature trees have been gradually rotting. All the resources locked up in the wood being released and taken up by bacteria, fungi, invertebrates and so to higher organisms.  It was a major ecological disturbance,  that in some ways has been of considerable benefit to wildlife.


Is land the "new gold" for investors?  What might this mean for woodland owners

Is land the "new gold" for investors? What might this mean for woodland owners

by Angus ~ 29 December, 2011 ~ 2 comments

The ongoing financial crisis was expected by many to push down the price of land but it seems that it has in fact pushed up land values.  What appears to have happened is threefold:

  • people are getting such a low return on their cash that they feel land is a more attractive option
  •  investors don't trust the banks and think of land as a "safe haven"
  • whilst many are suffering from the downturn there are many others with cash who are choosing to invest in land.

Land has been described as the "new gold" - a safe haven for wealth even if actual returns are low.  This also seems to explain the buoyant residential property market in central London. Read more...

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