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        Woodland Management

"Trees are undoubtedly among the most interesting of nature's works, but they are so constantly before us that, like the sky and the ever changing clouds, their beauty is often overlooked."
                                                              (The Scenery of Sherwood Forest by Joseph Rodgers)

Woodland management is not just about cutting and planting trees.

In the last few years with the money we have paid the owners of King's Wood for the fallen trees we use they have been able to set up their own re-planting scheme, planting in excess of 350 trees including Oak, Hazel, Hawthorn, Blackthorn and many other native species.

Can't see the wood for the trees.................

In woodlands that have been neglected for years many of the mature trees will have had there growth stunted by dead trees.  In these instances it is necessary to fell the dead trees to allow the canopy of the mature strong ones to spread.
The tree below had been dead for several years and was recently felled to allow the mature strong tree behind it to continue it's growth.

Dead Sweet Chestnut felled to make way for canopy growth of the tree behind it.

The canopy of the strong straight Sweet Chestnut in the background has now got space to grow and expand.

Felling a tree is an extremly dangerous process and not one that should be undertaken by the inexperienced and ill equiped.

Dead trees are particularly dangerous because although the outer of the tree drys and splits the inner wood rots and becomes unstable.

The photo below shows what can happen to even the experts when felling a dead tree.

Whilst felling this tree a slight breeze caught the upper branches causing the tree to rock backwards, in normal circumstances this would not have been a problem but because the tree had been dead for several years and the centre of it was rotten, the felling of this tree turned from a standard procedure to a potential life threatening situation in a matter of seconds.

When a tree is felled a small section of wood is left to act as a hinge which helps to control the fall of the tree and prevents it from sliding back towards the operator.  However, in this case as the wood was so rotten the hinge snapped, the tree twisted and slid backwards trapping the bar of the chainsaw.

The top of the tree was held in the upper branches of the tree behind but it's whole weight (approx 2000kg) was resting on the chainsaw bar and against the unit.

The normal procedure for when a chainbar gets stuck is to remove the unit but in this instance if that were done then the tree would have dropped onto the operator (me!).

It was decided the best plan of action would be to roll the tree off the stump and hope it missed the chainsaw when it finally hit the ground.

Once the tree was safely on the ground the chainsaw was recovered, the damage to the bar was irrepairable but more importantly no one was injured.

An interesting fact:

To purchase a shotgun a 'Shotgun Certificate' issued by the Police is needed.

The purchase of a chainsaw can be done from most DIY stores or online without the need to show any form of licence or certificate of competence.

Yet a chainsaw in the hands of the untrained is potentialy as dangerous as a loaded shot gun.

The article above shows how dangerous one wrong move with a chainsaw can be even in the hands of the professionals.

Coppicing and Pollarding

Just as one would prune a rose bush or tree in the garden a similar procedure is undertaken in the woodland.  Many trees such as Willow, Hazel and Sweet Chestnut are coppiced/pollarded. This is where sections of the tree are cut but leaving the base plate intact, allowing the stronger and straighter sections of the tree to continue growing. In the case of pollarding, the tree section is cut at a hieght of about 5'; this was done to stop forest animals such as deer eating the new shoots.

These photos are of two branches from the same tree, one is 22" in diameter 40' long and the other 18" in diameter and 40' long.  Both have about 130 growth rings.  The main trunk of the tree was over 42" in diameter and 20 feet in length.

       Timber Harvesting

Man has always found a use for timber, be it for warmth, shelter or furniture.

But before the invention of chainsaws a more labour intensive method of cutting and milling trees was used.

The following pictures show some types of tools that were used.


The picture below shows a similar saw to the ones above being used to cut a tree trunk into planks.

As can clearly be seen one man stands on the tree whilst another (usually the apprentice)
stands below and the saw is moved back and forth to cut through the tree.


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       Down but not out!

Within a few months of this Oak tree been felled new shoots could be seen growing.

Just because the tree has been cut down does not mean it has been killed; this tree will regrow from the original baseplate.

This is the stump of the 'Restoration Tree', new growth could be seen within weeks of us removing the trunk. 

Hopefully this will grow into another monster tree.

This photo shows a section of an Oak tree after the first 2/3 planks have been removed.

In the background the stump of the tree can be seen proving that we really do plank the trees in situ.

Once we've finished planking the sawdust is left to rot back into the forest floor.

Any branches or sections of tree that were not suitable for planking are removed, left to season and used for firewood.

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    Storm Damage

As the wind picks up a loud crack rings out across the forest!

High winds are the curse of all trees and this one did not escape the first of the high winds this autumn (2010).

The dark brown patch of colour is the result of rot.

Rot will break down the structure of the grain causing the tree to become weak.

In the join where the branch has grown out from the main trunk a hollow will have been formed.

Every time it rained, water would have collected in this hollow and over time this water will have penetrated through the bark and into the grain and so the rot sets in.

The branch had grown to a length of 20 - 30 foot and the strain on the main trunk combined with the rot became too much.

In the photo above we can clearly see the torn grain and bark where the branch broke away.

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    Decaying Wood

Just because a tree has been attacked by fungus does not mean it should be cut down and destroyed.  If the trunk is still strong and capable of supporting the weight of the branches then it should be left to continue growing.

Fairies' hideout?

Not quite, this is the hollowed out trunk of an old Oak tree in Haywood Oaks Wood,
near Blidworth, Nottinghamshire.

Below is a photo of the same tree in all its splendour.

This Oak tree is one of many in Haywood Oaks Wood and is over 7 foot in diameter.

Despite having lost part of its trunk to decay it stands tall and strong.

The extent of the decay can be seen in this photo but still the tree continues to grow.

It's hard to believe that this photo is of the inside of a tree trunk.

It could almost be a dried up waterfall in a mountain side.

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       Firewood - Renewable Energy

As we look across the skyline around many villages and towns we can now see forests, not of trees growing but of wind turbines, the governments answer to clean renewable energy/fuel.
But how much carbon has been produced in order to make these turbines and how long will it take for each one to become carbon neutral.

Trees are seen as the one true renewable carbon free fuel source, they absorb the harmful co2 gases from our atmosphere and give off oxygen.
Throughout its life a tree will absorb far more harmful gases than it produces when burnt.

We use the off cuts from making our furniture together with the unusable branches and logs from the tree in our wood burning range. Burning the off cuts from making the Marriage Chest provided enough heat to cook 3 meals.

Photo above shows smaller branches that we can't mill, they've been cut to length and stacked to dry before being used for burning.

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