Over the last three decades, many estates across Britain have had an unacknowledged moratorium on managing woodland. In many cases this has been because, with cheap imports of timber, fuel and overseas labour, it has simply not been possible to give the time and effort to keep local woodlands productive and in good condition.
Woodlands are a fragile resource. One of the primary needs of trees and all plants, is light. When woodland has been unmanaged for a period, the canopy becomes too close, the understorey and ground flora die out, and the floor becomes cold. Historically our ancient woodlands, including many vanished ones, were managed to maximise “productivity”, or fast tree growth, to feed our industrial economy. Woodland work allowed in plenty of light on a periodic basis, providing a continuous patchwork of habitats, which sustained an abundance of flowers, insects and larger animals. This work was ongoing for thousands of years, and is part of our natural and cultural history.
So a general principle of maintaining healthy and productive woodland is to allow in the light. This involves managing the canopy when thinning, and cutting coppice areas on a rotation. Coppicing work also gives an opportunity for flowers, seedlings, and planted trees to establish.
Managing woodland is a very long term activity and needs vision for the future. Our planet seems to become smaller and smaller, and increasingly fragile. Resources of air, land, water, and biodiversity are now so important, that we are constantly re valuing what we have. At Spains Hall, the natural environment, energy from woodfuel, landscape, local employment, timber and self sufficiency are values at the heart of a traditional woodland management ethos.
The footpaths will of course stay open with ongoing woodland work during the year, but in the interests of safety, would walkers please keep to the official paths, observe any taped off areas, and be patient if they encounter roadside loading. Would dog walkers particularly bear in mind that dogs off the lead could cause a serious accident if they are allowed to run in the vicinity of forestry operations. For this reason it would be appreciated if dogs could be kept on leads and to the path, when operations are taking place.
Many thanks for your patience.