Sustainable Woodland Management by Jonathan Plowe, Forestry Manager

The temperatures may have started dropping from the record highs of the summer, but still no rain to speak of. The little rain we have had is enough at this time of year for most woodland plants and animals, as things have mostly stopped growing and what fresh growth there is, and the dew on the ground is enough for their water needs. However, it is crucial that the rain comes, as to start the growing season next year with the ponds, streams and the ground short of water would be so damaging to our woodlands and other habitats.

Most of the growing potential of trees is set in the spring and early summer, in fact the established trees grew very well at the start to the year due to the wet spring and warm summer; it was the very young trees that suffered as they don’t have the root system to exploit the deeper reserves of water. Unfortunately, getting enough rain would mean a bit of a miserable winter for us, but there is a saying along the lines of - ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothing’ 50 - and no rain means no rainbows! And in any case there’s something special about knowing that its only you and the wildlife out in the woods on a cold frosty morning.

One of the many pleasures of being so close to the changing of the seasons is watching the behaviour of the wildlife over the year. As winter approaches, the woodland creatures really do seem to take on a more serious aspect. Instead of bouncing around, singing, or just loafi ng about creatures are seemingly on a mission. Not more so than squirrels, who are frantically collecting acorns and other seeds to stash for the winter. Although I can appreciate their industriousness they can be extremely damaging, to the point of killing, young trees.

The forestry department is busy trying to complete the season’s timber harvest before the ground gets too wet because, as you gardeners will know, ground compaction is something to be avoided wherever possible. We only harvest what we can sustainably grow, but it’s not always as simple as that. For example, we are still dealing with Ash Die Back, which means in certain areas we are felling more trees than we would ideally like, but we already have plans to replant these areas with a range of native broadleaf trees later this year.

All of this activity is to make sure that we have a sustainable woodland that can produce timber for our fi rewood and woodchip businesses, which if successful allows us to manage our 2400 acres of woodlands to the highest standards we can.

Sales of fi rewood have been much higher than last year and so I apologise if delivery times are longer than usual, but hopefully we are worth the wait. Please go to our website to order your fi rewood. 

 Sustainable Woodland Management