News & Events

Horse-logging demonstration 13 May | 05th May, 2017


Join us for the visit to Karen Moon’s 9-acre wood at High Stoop in County Durham. SWOG members can enjoy a day in the woods, watching a demonstration of horse-logging and learning about the advantages of this traditional, low-impact aspect of woodland management.

The free event will start at 10.30 am and Charlie the horse logger will be present all day, either demonstrating or available with advice and to answer questions. There is hard standing in the wood for parking and space available for a limited number of caravans. The Brown Horse Hotel/Pub is close by, either for refreshments or accommodation. If you would like to attend, please email judith@swog.org.uk as soon as possible.

Newsletter May 2017 | 01st May, 2017

May Day is here and with it the latest SWOG newsletter!

May2017

  • Nominate your favourite woodland individual or enterprise for a Woodland Award
  • Read about the PAWS restoration workshop in Rogley Wood
  • Learn about one man’s lifetime love of crafting rustic ash chairs.
  • Sign up for a SWOG meeting!

PAWS Restoration Workshop – Joint Meeting with The Woodland Trust | 20th Apr, 2017

Early April was an excellent time to hold a joint SWOG and  Woodland Trust,   PAWS (plantation on ancient woodland sites) restoration workshop.  The spring flowers were in abundance and the weather perfect for the meeting held at  Rogley Wood in the High Weald AONB.  It was attended by owners of the wood as well as other  SWOG and Woodland Trust members.

Many thanks go to Jim Smith Wright and his volunteer, Daniel, at the Woodland Trust for bringing their expertise to the group and covering the subject so thoroughly.  Thanks also go to Tim Saunders of the Forestry Commission who talked about management plans, grants and licenses and to all the owners at Rogley who welcomed the group into their woods.

Please contact Jim directly if you would like any more advice on restoring or suveying your PAWS woodland.

JimSmith-Wright@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Read more …

Woodfairs 2017 | 04th Apr, 2017

The Arb Show  12–14 May 2017 Westonbirt Arboretum, Gloucestershire

Weird and Wonderful Wood 13–14 May 2017 Stowmarket, Suffolk

The Bushcraft Show 27–29 May 2017 Beehive Farm, Rosliston, Derbyshire

Devon County Show 18–20 May 2017 Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Devon

Royal Bath & West Show 31 May – 3 June 2017 Shepton Mallet, Somerset

Weald and Downland Living Museum Show 17–18 June 2017 Chichester, West Sussex

Royal Highland Show 2–25 June 2017 Edinburgh, Scotland

Great Yorkshire Show 11–13 July 2017 Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate

Royal Welsh Show 24–27 July 2017 Builth Wells, Wales

New Forest and Hampshire County Show 25–27 July 2017 Brockenhurst, Hampshire

Woodfest Wales 29–30 July 2017 St Asaph, Denbighshire

South Downs Show 19–20 August 2017 Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Petersfield, Hampshire

Wilderness Gathering 16–20 August West Knoyle, Wiltshire

Stock Gaylard Oak Fair 26–27 August 2017 Sturminster Newton, Dorset

Wychwood Forest Fair 3 September 2017 Charlbury, Oxfordshire

Confor Woodland Show 7–8 September 2017 Longleat, Wiltshire

Belmont Woodfest & Country Fair 9–10 September 2017 Faversham, Kent

Bentley Weald Wood Fair 15–17 September 2017 Lewes, East Sussex

European Woodworking Show 16–17 September, Braintree, Essex

Surrey Hills Wood Fair 30 Sept–1 Oct 2017 Birtley House, Guildford

Into the woods with Countryfile | 03rd Apr, 2017

It was great to see a whole episode of BBC Countryfile devoted to woodlands and timber. The programme noted the the many benefits of woodland and concentrated on industrial aspects of the timber industry, highlighting the woeful shortfall in current tree planting and the likely implications for the future. The loggingindustrial aspects were in sharp contrast to John Craven’s piece on horse-logging, however. He visited Frankie Woodgate in Kent and watched her work in the woods with her beautiful horses, extracting coppiced trees with minimal impact. SWOG got there first of course – one SWOG member recounted her training course with Frankie’s team at Weald Woodscapes and it can be read here.

Malvern Coppicing – a review | 30th Mar, 2017

Thanks to Annie Vincent for this review of a course at Malvern Coppicing.

splittingThis course is a must for all those starting out in their woods and for those that want to learn how to manage and maintain it while ensuring that the wildlife is encouraged , too.

The course was full, that says something straight away, but with just six attendees, we found that we were able to learn skills without being left alone in the crowds! We started with a walk around some of the 50 acres of woodland at Ravenshill Woodland Reserve, while learning how to identify trees in winter.

And to the business of coppicing – we learnt how to choose a site to coppice, with details about compartments, coupes and coppice rotation. How to arrange stacks of produce such as pea sticks / bean poles / steaks/ hedge posts –the list is endless. We built the stacks which then gave us ample opportunity to identify the species and stack them into piles of hazel / ash / oak or whatever. Phil supplied all the tools and I had great fun with the froe while splitting posts. We coppiced complete stools and created windrows for insects and birds.

stackWe layered the  hazel that we hadn’t coppiced to create more stools throughout the compartment that was looking a little bare. We made pegs to hold the layered hazel in place and then selected hawthorn to protect the growth.

We had a great time and have come away from the course with a re-kindled enthusiasm to get coppicing on our own woodland. I now look at coppiced wood in a totally new light: I understand why you coppice, the financial gains (if that’s what you’re interested in) and the benefits for your woodland and the habitat.

owlWe had lunch, cooked by Rae Wood – hot piping soup and pheasant casserole – all tea and biscuits and fruit included in the price and Rae even gave me some private tuition on traditional Split Peg making using a willow kosht.  We also met Nelson the Tawny Owl , who has been rescued and lives on site.

You can stay on site – we didn’t camp as it was cold wet and storm Doris was still blowing. We did stay on site in our motorhome with the kind permission of the local woodland owners.

Low Impact Extraction Ideas – Milling in the Wood | 27th Feb, 2017

IMG_20170105_120220If I look back at the woods I’ve worked and managed over the last few years a common theme emerges. They all seemed to have valuable timber in them, timber that desperately needs felling. Sometimes it’s on an overstood chestnut or ash stool in danger of falling over because of it’s enormous weight. Sometimes a crowded canopy of oak standards which is shading the rest of the coppice and woodland floor. Usually, but not exclusively, it has been in difficult-to-get-at places without an obvious or substantial ride to bring in heavy lifting and moving equipment. As I remarked to one woodland owner the other day, “If it was easy and it paid well, someone else would probably have already done it!”

Even where it is possible to bring in heavy equipment, one of the biggest considerations, particularly in small woodlands is the impact that this would make especially to the woodland floor. IMG_20160226_133937This method of hauling big trees out, usually to a static sawmill somewhere , seemed to me expensive in terms of equipment and the environmental impact that this equipment makes. I started looking at different systems, systems which meant turning things around and bringing the sawmill to the tree. This has lots of advantages especially for the smaller-scale operation in small woods where care and precision is much more of a consideration.

There is an assortment of products out there which range from a small jig and guidebar adaption of a standard chainsaw, to a full blown trailer mounted band saw with hydraulic lifting and turning abilities. They each have their place, but all have their pros and cons. I will briefly outline my musings on the subject and explain why I came to purchase a swing arm portable mill manufactured in New Zealand, by Turbosawmill

Pros and Cons

Once you start moving away from a static mill and towards a portable mill, compromises become necessary. Components need to be lighter and easy to dismantle, service and reconfigure. The Turbosaw model I have is a fairly good compromise.

Portability

The beam which the carriage runs on is 5.6m and made of aluminium, it also has an extension piece of 1.8m. It is light enough for two people to carry, but because it is made of aluminium there is a degree of flex. In practice, this is not usually noticed, but it does mean that when the saw carriage is midway along the beam, it can be 1mm or 2mm lower than at the ends … within acceptable tolerances, at least I’ve never needed to, or been asked to mill a piece of wood with greater accuracy than this!
The power source which runs the 16″ circular blade on this model is an adapted off the shelf Stihl 120cc chainsaw. The sprocket is replaced with a pulley system connected to a fairly standard car fan belt which runs a driveshaft to the blade. It is very easy to change it back to the original sprocket and guidebar configuration, and this was one of the reasons I went for this system. I like the idea of having more than one use for each bit of kit.
The carriage itself is made of steel and though not particularly heavy, again requires two people to manhandle it on to the beam. This is mainly because of it’s awkward size and shape. The chainsaw is easily bolted on and connected to the fan belt after the carriage is mounted.

Field serviceability

If you’ve used a chainsaw to rip boards either freehand or with a jig like the Alaskan Mill or Logosol systems, you’ll know how important it is to keep the chain tip-top sharp and also how quickly it can dull. This is a big time consideration with these systems. Sharpening the circular blade in comparison is a doddle. There are only 4 tungsten teeth on the blade and these are easily sharpened with a 12v grinder connected to your vehicle or if you’re not able to get close enough, I guess carrying a battery to the mill would be the easiest solution. Fan belts are easily changed and you should keep a couple of spares. Apart from that, check all the bolts and fixings for tightness on each use, grease and lube the moving parts and you’re away.

In use

This system will handle anything from 6″ or so in diameter to large 30 or 40″ plus butts. Usually the smaller lighter logs can be moved to the mill. I use a Logrite logging arch for this. The ‘junior’ model will handle anything up to 16″. But somewhere along the line you will come to point where you decide that it is easier to move the mill than the log. This decision becomes easier to make the longer you have had the mill and the more oversized logs you have attempted to move! Don’t try moving anything that will damage you! It’s far better and safer to move the mill! Having said that you can make things easier for yourself and try to set up the mill at the lowest point possible, this will put gravity on your side and gravity is fairly relentless and doesn’t tire so easily. With the bigger trees, obviously you will need to build the mill around the tree. Even then you will have limitations, milling an 8″ x 8″ post or beam anything more than 2 or 3m long is still going to require some kind of mechanical extraction or if you’re lucky gravity to get it to your extraction route.
The swinging arm is the greatest asset of this system, horizontal cuts are made by pushing the carriage forward it then swings 90 degrees and you pull back to cut vertically. The 16″ blade means in practice it can handle cuts up to 8″ and produce lumber of any dimension up to this limit. There is a way of extending this using a double cut method or turning the wood over. However, as I have quite lot of large diameter oak, I have added an Alaskan Mill cradle running another chainsaw and ripping chain to the same beam. This means I can mill squared-off lumber with the swinging arm then when I reach the middle of the log, where the wood is most stable, I change over to the Alaskan Mill and  can cut wide slabs for table tops or other products that need oversized boards.

Conclusion

Just over two years after buying the machine, I’m very pleased with how it has performed, though I am continually thinking of ways to improve it. Currently I’m trying to adapt the logging arch to carry the carriage and the beam. I understand its limitations but as part of an overall woodland management system I think it opens up many more possibilities for harvesting valuable but difficult to get at timber as well as a method for improving the health and viability of the woodland with the least amount of disturbance and impact to the wood.   To find out more, follow the links below.

www.keeperscoppicing.co.uk
http://turbosawmill.com/
http://www.turbosawmilluk.co.uk/
http://www.logrite.com/store/Item/Junior-Log-Arch

Video Links:
http://keeperscoppicing.co.uk/videos/
http://turbosawmill.com/instructionalvideos/

Gallery

And the winners are . . . | 03rd Feb, 2017

Thank you to everyone who entered the SWOG Big Picture competition. All the entries were wonderful and it is great to see everyone enjoying their woodlands. Our judge, Graham Wood, faced a difficult choice, but finally selected three clear winners.

Congratulations to Jane Thompson, Rob Elliott and George Smith for their winning entries. Jane wins a place on a coppice course at Malvern Coppicing.

Our thanks to the judge Graham Wood and to Phil Hopkinson of Malvern Coppicing for the wonderful first prize.

Red Squirrel Training Day | 31st Jan, 2017

Slide1 Slide1(1)

Holly Peek a  Red Squirrel Ranger for Anglesey and Gwynedd has contacted us with some information that  North West Wales members may find interesting.
She writes:

“Red Squirrels Trust Wales have successfully removed grey squirrels from the isle of Anglesey as well as brought a population of 40 red squirrels up to 700. This conservation success story would not have been possible without the input from local communities and businesses.

Over the next 3 years we want to spread this success over to the mainland. We are aiming to remove grey squirrels from a 90km2 area surrounding Bangor and reinforce the current red squirrel population and we need the help of local people.

I understand that woodland owners can have terrible problems with grey squirrel destroying property, damaging trees, destroying native wildlife and even causing fires from chewing electrical wiring. Red Squirrels Trust Wales would like to offer a FREE workshop to your North West Wales members on the 18th of February. These workshops will train people in grey squirrel culling and red squirrel monitoring. If any of your members decided to volunteer for RSTW we can provide them with the tools necessary to carry out these tasks. We are also looking for permission from woodland owners to trap and monitor squirrels on their land.”

If anyone would like to get involved, please contact Holly directly, details on the flyer above.

How do you feel about pests and diseases? | 06th Dec, 2016

Dr Julie Urquart from Imperial College is running a project about ash dieback.

She is trying to better understand how the public feels about ash dieback, a disease of ash trees that is currently quite widespread in East Kent. The findings from our project will provide useful feedback to government agencies in order to improve the way they communicate to the public about plant pests and diseases, and other environmental or public health risks.

Sylva-persistent-ash-leaves-due-to-ChalaraOur research involves asking respondents to sort a series of statements about ash dieback (and tree health more generally) according to how much they agree or disagree with the statements. This will help us to identify particular ways of thinking around these issues and whether ash dieback is affecting the way that people enjoy the countryside near where they live or how they manage their land.

We are currently seeking woodland owners in the East Kent area to take part. The process should take no longer than 30-45 minutes and takes place in your home or a location that is convenient for you. Most respondents find it quite enjoyable!

In the meantime, if you would like more information about the UNPICK project, please visit our website: www.imperial.ac.uk/unpick

Ride Improvement Scheme – Update | 05th Dec, 2016

img_20161203_113811

Ride Clearance Work Party – Plattershill, West Sussex

The track improvement pilot scheme in the South East is now nearing its end.  It was an initiative instigated by woodlands.co.uk to help owners with shared tracks maintain and improve the utility, structure  and biodiversity of their tracks and rides.  There were applications from about 15 groups of owners in the area and woodlands were able to fund work in about half of these.  See the March edition of the newsletter for more details.

We will shortly be gathering some feedback from owners who have been  directly involved in the scheme and we will post this in the new year.  Apart from the physical improvements to the rides, one of the greatest benefits of the scheme in my view has been that of  bringing owners, who may rarely meet, together to collaborate.

Well maintained, functional rides are important for all owners and wildlife.  It is inevitable that if nothing is done, over the years the trees will close in, shade the tracks and their usefulness will be lost.  Hopefully this scheme will have highlighted the issues and given everyone involved an idea of how to go about tackling the problem.  As with most projects, the hardest work is usually necessary at the beginning, but if  plans are in place and  works are scheduled each year, the job will become easier and the benefits obvious to all involved.

Many hands make light work –  Owners and contractors clearing the main ride at Plattershill Wood in West Sussex. December 2016

img_20161203_113725 img_20161203_113742 img_20161203_113811 img_20161203_115134 img_20161203_115935 img_20161203_113617

National Tree Week | 28th Nov, 2016

treeweek

The 41st National Tree Week begins on 26 November, and kicks off with a series of events to bring trees to the forefront of public consciousness. This year the Tree Council are encouraging us all to get involved with Tree Dressing Day on Saturday 3 December, and in support, the Woodland Trust and Forest Charter team have released a free tree dressing pack.

The Tree Council has also published the press release from the very first tree week in 1975. It is interesting to see both sides of the political establishment becoming involved, with the Prime Minister Harold Wilson planting a young holme oak at Chequers. Not to be outdone, Leader of the Opposition Margaret Thatcher characteristically helped to plant a mighty 30-ft lime tree in Lisson Grove.

thatcher

Source: Getty Images

History does not recall the fate of either tree, but let’s hope they’re both flourishing.

New Forest Land Advice Service Working Woodlands Project | 03rd Nov, 2016

Tom Murphy has been in touch, he is the  project co-ordinator for the Working Woodlands Project which is run by the New Forest Land Advice Service  part of the bigger, forest-wide “Our Past Our Future” initiative.

Read more …

Grown in Britain Week Special Offer | 11th Oct, 2016

giblogo-locopyThere is a 10% discount to anyone placing a booking on a Grown in Britain training course this week. Places are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment.

The aim of the course is to provide potential applicants and/or auditors of the Grown in Britain Standard with an introduction to the Standard, its general requirements and the different categories of the Licence and how these should be complied with.

The course is designed for owners and managers of woodlands to find out how the Grown in Britain Standard can help complement existing management strategies, and is also designed for those in the timber and timber products supply chain to learn how Grown in Britain can help to support the marketing of compliant products.  We also introduce the new woodfuel standard and how obtaining a Grown in Britain Woodfuel Licence can help you to stay compliant with RHI and Biomass Suppliers List requirements.

Courses are delivered by RDI Associates in partnership with Grown in Britain.  RDI Associates is a registered training provider and courses are taken by qualified and experienced instructors.

The following dates and locations are now confirmed:

DATE VENUE
Friday 21 October 2016 Forestry Commission Offices, Alice Holt, Surrey
Friday 11 November 2016 Cumbria Local Enterprise Centre, Redhills, Penrith
Tuesday 15 November 2016 Woodland Trust Offices, Grantham, Lincolnshire

Each course costs £210.00 per person (exc VAT) which includes the course handbook and catering and refreshments for the day. Don’t forget your 10% discount if you place your booking this week!

You can book a place by either:

If you have any questions or queries on the content of the course, please contact the instructor, Will Richardson, by e-mailing him at will.richardson@ruraldevelopment.org.uk or calling him on 07957 184978.

Oak Processionary Moth – research | 30th Sep, 2016

thaumetopoea-processioneaWe have been contacted by Dr. John Fellenor who is part of a project team looking at the public perception of risk with regard to specific tree pests and pathogens, one of which is the oak processionary moth (OPM).

Their project webpage provides an overview of what the work aims to achieve

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/unpick/

Read more …

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