Nov 22 SWOG Meetings – Delamere By Tracy

21 SWOG members met up on a very wet and windy November day in Delamere Forest. We went out for a walk first thing before the heavy rain arrived.

David Scott, forester, led our walk as we talked about all kinds of things. We practised recognising conifers and about woodland management and wildlife.

After lunch, Rod from the woodland skills centre shared some of his produce with us, and talked about woodland management planning and economics.

Here is a short write up from him, from his course.

Key issues in managing a woodland

a)     Have a vision of what you would like the woodland to be in 25 years, 50 years, 100 years.
b)     Find out as much as you can about what is there now.
c)     How do you get from b) to a) ?
d)     Do you need to alter the age structure?
e)     Do you need to change the range of species?
f)     Do you need to thin the woodland?
g)     Do you need to plant or can you allow natural regeneration to do the job?
h)     Do you need to create access tracks to help you?
i)     Who is the woodland for? Who will  be able to enjoy it?
j)     Security and buildings.

Our management priorities for the Warren Woods

We have three objectives – all equal :
The woodland is in the AONB and adjoins the Offa’s Dyke Path. We want it to look good both from within the woodland and from afar. We want it to be enjoyed by as many people as possible up to the level which the woodland will sustain.
We want the woodland to support as many as possible of the species you would expect to find in a woodland like this – so no exotic imports and work to create and maintain a range of habitats.
The woodland needs to pay its way. We need to understand what it can produce that has a market value and produce enough, without compromising the other two objectives, to at least break even. There is a certain amount of grant aid available and there are other ways in which we can reach objectives without incurring cost.

Here is a simple bird feeder Rod made. If you want to know more, book a course with him!

After a good open forum discussion on economics and equipment, we allowed David to talk again 😉 This time it was an introduction to chainsaws and chainsaw safety.

David reminded everyone to wear the correct safety gear, regularly maintain their saws and to go on a course. He also reminded us to check the expiry dates on our helmets.

For more information on maintaining your saw – take a look at woodlandstv.

So, what did SWOG members have to say about the day?

Dennis and Margaret:
Feeling cut off from SWOG in the South East, where we own a woodland, it was good to find quite a number of other folk close by in NE Cheshire. We appreciated the chance to learn and to share ideas.

It was enjoyable being amongst a group of people who shared a common interest, and to hear of their experiences. I agreed with the sentiments expressed by Rod, my only regret being that we stumbled upon our piece of woodland after our kids had grown up – we’ll just have to hope that they produce some grandchildren whilst we are young enough to enjoy it with them.
I picked up some tips from the day – listening to Rod I realised that my wood might produce more wood fuel than I had calculated, as I will be able to plant more than I need for simple replanting, and to thin later on, and
from Dave I learned that I don’t have to buy a brute of a log-splitter for my huge tree trunks – I just pay to get someone to come and do it for me.

Chris and Ken
We would like to comment that it was great meeting up with other relatively local Woodland owners and swapping contact details. We also appreciated the open forum we had – it was very useful listening to other owners and the experts points of view Ken like the chainsaw chat – even though he has done a chain saw course, it acted as a refresher for some important points, particularly about the use-by date for hard hats.

Many thanks to all who came and we look forward to more meetings in your area. (and thanks to Dennis for the photos)

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