Natural Resources Wales publishes new guidance for woodland owners

Tree Felling: Getting Permission

Natural Resources Wales have published new guidance on applying for felling, now available in Welsh and English from their website.

On 15 September 2017, a man was fined £112,197 for illegally felling 200 ancient hedgerow beech trees without a licence  Newport Magistrates’ Court heard the man a former tenant at a farm in Manmoel, Blackwood, Caerphilly county, admitted cutting down the trees with his two sons in January 2017. Natural Resources Wales (NRW) discovered the remains of the hedgerow beech trees amounting to 200 cubic metres of felled timber. The legal limit of trees allowed to be felled by a landowner in a three-month period is five cubic metres and an NRW investigation found no felling licence was in place. To find out what you need to know about getting permission to fell any trees for yourself or for someone else click below.

Welsh: torri-coed-cael-cantaniad

English: NRW Tree Felling-Getting Permission booklet ENGLISH


News from the Squirrel Accord

The UK Squirrel Accord consists of 35 leading woodland, timber industry and conservation organisations in the UK.

It was created at the invitation of HRH The Prince of Wales – who had the aim of bringing a concerted and coordinated approach both to securing the future of our red squirrels and woodlands and also to controlling the introduced grey squirrel. Our commitment is to the effective and targeted control of grey squirrels and the protection of red squirrels.

Fertility control solution to reduce the millions of pounds worth of damage caused annually to UK’s broadleaf woodland by grey squirrels

The control of grey squirrels in the UK is not only vital to protect the native red squirrel population, but also to reduce the increasing damage caused to the UK’s broadleaf woodland, according to experts at the UK Squirrel Accord Autumn conference this week which was held at the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) in York.

The conference, titled “Squirrels, Tree Health and Disease,” brought together leading representatives from the woodland and timber industry in addition to conservation organisations from all over the UK.  Their aim is to bring a concerted and coordinated approach to securing the future of our red squirrels and woodlands, and to controlling the introduced grey squirrel.

The Earl of Kinnoull, Chair of RSST (Red Squirrel Survival Trust) and UK Squirrel Accord, says: “The threat of grey squirrels, which are a non-native species, to the native red squirrel population is widely recognised in the UK.  An incredible amount of work has been done in recent years to protect red squirrels particularly in Scotland, Northern England, Northern Ireland  and Wales. However, what has often been overlooked is the significant economic, environmental and social damage caused to our broadleaf woodland.

“The impact is devastating, and it is important the wider public are aware of the potential landscape damage that is, and will be, caused by grey squirrels. It is therefore vital that effective controls are introduced to minimise this and protect our broadleaf woodlands.”

Dr. Giovanna Massei, National Wildlife Management Centre, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) reported on progress from the first year of a 5-year project on fertility control research.

“Oral contraceptives for grey squirrels offer a humane and safe option of population control that might be used in addition to other control methods. Our research provides a vaccine to the grey squirrel in an encapsulated form using a natural capsule of a pollen or spore grain (known as a SPeC). These SPeCs are added to a bait and when the animals eat the bait, the ‘sticky’ SPeCs attach to the intestine and release the fertility control vaccine into the blood stream.

“A grey squirrel-specific food hopper is used and is weighted to prevent entry of other mammals such as red squirrels. The fertility control vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies and all sexual activity is decreased so resulting in the animals remaining in a non-reproductive state as long as a sufficient level of antibodies is present.

“If all trials and formal registration of the vaccine are successful it is possible that vaccine could be brought to market within 6-8 years. This is a very exciting development in the potential control of grey squirrels in the UK and could revolutionise the management of the population in future,” she concludes.

Dr Julie Lane National Wildlife Management Centre, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) reported on progress on the various control methods currently or previously employed and the pros and cons of each:

  • Warfarin (no longer used) · Drey poking/ shooting
  • Free shooting · Live trapping
  • Kill traps

All control has to comply with the Animal Welfare Act and the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards, though the latter only currently applies to stoats, badgers and pine martens. A number of kill traps are allowed under the Spring Trap Approval Order, which APHA test prior to Defra approval.

The presentation also described progress with the Good Nature Squirrel Trap and the pros and cons of this multi-capture trap. Following modification the Good Nature 18 Squirrel Trap has been recommended to Defra for approval. This is expected by spring or summer 2018. Dr Lane emphasised its potential role as part of an integrated programme of control – not a single ‘silver bullet’.

Glen Graham, an experienced Red Squirrel Ranger – National Trust Wallington Hall, Morpeth. In his presentation – Fertility Control in Grey Squirrel Control – Working together in the future. described the transformation he’d achieved in restoring red squirrels and grey control in and around the Wallington Hall Estate. This had been achieved through intensive monitoring using feeders and hair traps, shooting and trapping, achievable due to his focussed attention and dedication to the work. He noted the challenges of securing engagement of neighbours whose grey havens beyond the estate boundary posed a threat, and welcomed the prospect of new control measures that could encourage other owners and add to his own ‘arsenal’.

Andrew Woods, President from the Royal Forestry Society, gave his perspective on a winning planting strategy and tree Disease problems arising costing the Woodland Industry Andrew contrasted his experience as a young forester when 15 – 20 per cent of his time could legitimately be spent on grey control, with the situation for today’s foresters.

Moreover, deer were less of a problem then (though rabbits were); the Broadleaved Woodland Grant Scheme incentivised planting; and warfarin was available.

Grey squirrels remained a scourge of commercial woodland development, however, and control was an essential component of profitable management. More care was needed on species selection, not least to create more market options, and obligations should be placed on land managers to encourage active squirrel management using all the current and emerging tools in the toolbox.

John Grimshaw, of the York Arboretum, mentioned his organisation’s aspiration to set up a tree health centre alongside a red squirrel enclosure.  He commented “We plan to have a red squirrel enclosure in the York Arboretum so the public can interact with the squirrels and sitting alongside this will be a tree health centre so the public can learn about the issues of tree health. There will be a citizen science project running alongside this and a training centre for professional tree and woodland people.”

Dr Charles Lane of FERA in his presentation for The English Woodland’s Race for Survival. Noted the context of the Government’s Plan Protection Strategy 2014 and the importance of harnessing public awareness and action through, for example, the Tree Health Early Warning System. He described various online channels for citizen science including OPAL: Open Air Laboratories and Observatree.

He exemplified several tree diseases which had been imported and then spread to other continents and how these manifested themselves. There is evidence several diseases are triggered in bark wounds, for example, so the threat posed by squirrel damage in accelerating the spread of tree diseases was now becoming obvious.

Adrian Vass, Manager of UK Squirrel Accord adds, “A nationwide and coordinated landscape approach to red squirrel conservation and woodland management is absolutely vital to red squirrel conservation.

“Woodland owners have a virtually impossible job of controlling grey squirrels if it is not done through a landscape approach.  Sharing information is vital to success and we encourage the industry to come together to control this growing and concerning issue. So, I invite woodland owners and their agents to talk to us at the UK Squirrel Accord about the new Countryside Stewardship and discuss any grant opportunities,” he concludes. “If we can succeed in supporting progress, then our woodlands and red squirrel populations will have a healthy future.”


VAT on Woodland – an update

VAT recovery on management of Woodland

 Will Woodlands, a  charity whose stated aim is tree planting for public enjoyment, heritage enrichment and nature conservation, has won its appeal against HMRC at the First Tier Tax Tribunal.

HMRC had claimed that amenity was non-business use and as such an agreed area calculation that had been accepted for 15 years to calculate recoverable VAT was no longer fair and reasonable and that an income calculation should be used. HMRC also proposed a methodology that attempted to allocate future income each year albeit this is completely impractical for the forestry sector.

Will Woodlands had argued  that, whilst their objectives were conserving and restoring wildlife by acquiring land and establishing woodland, its woodland was managed in the same way as a commercial woodland, other than having slightly higher standards of wildlife protection (eg with more bird boxes and wildflower planting) and greater attention paid to managing public access.

The Tribunal held that the stated objectives in the Charity’s accounts and other documentation was irrelevant, and that the woodland was run on the same basis as a commercial woodland with timber being sold every 20 years or so when thinning took place. There was also a long term aim to fell the timber which was a valid business purposes even though trees would take 100 years to reach maturity.

 David McGeachy, Head of VAT at Saffery Champness commented “This is good news for the sector as it confirms that as long as there is an intention to sell firewood and ultimately to make timber sales then VAT recovery on the costs of managing and planting a woodland should be available. The key is that there is an ability to demonstrate an intention to run the woodland commercially”.


Grown in Britain Week 2017: 9-15 October

Celebrating Great British Wood will be the theme for this year’s Grown in Britain Week, which takes place from 9-15 October. The campaign has made available a ‘supporters pack’ on its website which comprises ideas and information, and a selection of downloadable designs for a leaflet or poster, and for two shapes of sticker, which can be printed and used locally by supporters across the forestry sector.

Grown in Britain recently marked its fourth anniversary. From its roots in the forestry and timber milling sectors, the campaign is now linking up with trade federations and their members across those business sectors which buy, trade in, and use British-grown wood. “Linking up supply chains is a central tenet of what a campaign like Grown in Britain is here for,” says CEO Dougal Driver. “It gives commercial impetus to bringing more woodland back into management if we can help to promote steady growth in the purchase and use of British timber.” Grown in Britain is bringing builders’ merchants and joinery companies into closer partnership through working with the Builders Merchants Federation and the British Woodworking Federation.

With over 200 supporters in 15 different business sectors, the campaign has a broad base from which to extend the licensing schemes it has been developing in the last few years, bringing assurance of British-grown origins to traders, buyers and users of timber and wood products. “Grown in Britain licensing has become recognised as an assurance mechanism by many major construction contractors. Now we must connect up the centre of the supply chain to truly ensure a sustainable future for our forests,” Dougal Driver concludes.


Woodland Photography Competition

Show us the very best of your woodland and photography skills.

After the success of our previous photography competition, we will be running it again this year.

The competition is open to all members and the entries will be displayed at the Skillshare event on October 8th. Those attending will be able to vote for the best image.

The first place prize will be a bundle of books including a signed copy of Ben Law’s Woodland Craft.

Entries (a maximum of two per entrant) should be sent to by 1st September 2017, and should be a minimum of 2MB in size. A selection of the best images will also appear in Smallwoods magazine.


Help shape the future of forestry

Take part in the British Woodlands Survey 2017

Devolution, pests & pathogens, Brexit, emerging markets, climate change, societal attitudes . . . just some of the momentous factors influencing our trees and woodlands, those who care for them, and those who rely on their products and services. Have your say about what these and other issues mean to you by taking part in Britain’s only dedicated national survey about our woodlands and forestry: the British Woodlands Survey 2017.

The last BWS, which focussed on environmental change, represented 11% of all privately-owned forest land in Britain with thousands of stakeholders taking part. This year we are asking questions around priority themes already suggested by hundreds of stakeholders, plus themes of specific interest to England, Scotland and Wales.

BWS has a proven record of accomplishment influencing decision-making, and helping to develop policy. If you are a woodland owner or manager, agent, professional forester or forestry/wood business, please take part and help shape the future of forestry.

Take the survey:

We developed the British Woodlands Survey to provide a voice to the thousands of woodland owners and forestry professionals in Britain, with the aim of influencing the development of policy, practice and research which is fit-for-purpose.
Dr Gabriel Hemery, Chief Executive, Sylva Foundation

The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) is a series of surveys undertaken to gather evidence about the nations’ woodlands and those who care for them. BWS is co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation with support from multiple partners across the forestry sector. The first BWS was conducted in 2012, intended as a baseline against which data from future major surveys can be compared. BWS2012 itself built upon an important series of surveys undertaken by the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge since 1963. Read more:


Woodland Interns 2017

Small Woods Association are providing an opportunity to gain experience within the woodland and greenwood craft sector for volunteer woodland interns.

May 2017

Rolling program – 6 week blocks.

November 2017.

No direct experience required but would have volunteered or trained in a related discipline.
Keen to learn and gain experience within the woodland and Green wood craft sector.

Work program:
Woodland Interns will work 4 days a week which may include weekends and will undertake:

  • Support training manger promote training courses and woodland initiatives
  • Prepare tools and materials for craft and woodland courses
  • Assist course tutors to undertake Woodland management and Greenwood Craft courses
  • Undertake Woodland management, timber extraction and processing
  • Undertake a craft based project.

Work experience will be based at the Green Wood Centre, Station Road Coalbrookdale. Telford. TF8 7DR. Accommodation is available so please enquire.

Further details:
Contact Richard Thomason Tel. 01952 432769, email.

Please send your CV along with a statement of why you would like to take part in a Small Woods Association internship to: email.

May 5th 2017.


Member Events

Small Woods offer an array of events throughout the year for members and non-members. Our member events are a great way to see woodlands in your local area, meet other members and discover different ways of managing woodlands.

All of the events are free to members and a guest, and £5 to non-members. Click on ‘Events‘ to see the full list or look out for updates in our newsletter.

For more information, or to book a place, please contact Rebecca Cork at or 01952 432769.


Join the ‘Woodland Into Management’ Event

At the Green Wood Centre, 16th March 2017, 9am – 4.30pm.

Adding Value To Our Woodlands.

With the objective of bringing neglected woods back into management, The Forestry Commission and Small Woods Association are proud to host a day of discussions and demonstrations for woodland owners, contractors and community woodland groups. The day will include:

Demonstrations of extraction equipment: Transforming woodlands with difficult access

  • Timber Arches
  • Quad Bikes
  • Alstor Forwarders
  • Portable Winches from Tread Lightly Forestry

Adding value to timber: The latest machinery and traditional crafts

  • Wood-Mizer Sawmill Operating
  • Hydraulic Log Splitting
  • Hookway Retort Kiln Charcoal Making
  • Fascine Making
  • Green Wood products with Neill Mapes


  • Leader funding for Woodland equipment
  • Community woodland groups
  • Utilising volunteers in a woodland business

The event will be held at the Green Wood Centre, Coalbrookdale, Shropshire. Places are limited, so book well-before March 3rd to avoid disappointment. Lunch will also be provided by the Green Wood Café.

For full details or to book your place, contact Russell Critchley at or call 01952 432769.

Alstor Forwarder:

Portable Winches:

Hydraulic Log Splitting:

Hookway Retort Kiln:


Green Wood products with Neill Mapes:



Small Woods Recruiting

Woodland Management & Membership Officer

A rare opportunity at the Small Woods Association to play a key role for both the organisation and for our members. The role will focus on woodland management policy, project organisation and services to members.

You will be conversant with the range of issues related to multi-objective woodland management. Reporting directly to the Chief Executive, you will:

  • Lead national work on woodland management including networking, the development of funding bids, representation, supporting the development of Small Woods’ policies on a wide range of issues, and
  • Coordinate woodland management advice and activities for members including events, training, liaising with regional coordinators and responding to members’ enquiries.

Based at the Green Wood Centre in Shropshire, benefits include:

  • Working in a beautiful office location in Coalbrookdale, near Ironbridge
  • Being part of a small, friendly and professional team
  • Being at the centre of the UK-wide woodland sector
  • Benefiting from training course discounts at the Green Wood Centre

Success in achieving growth in this area of work would be assessed regularly and significant increases in activity rewarded accordingly. Anyone wishing to discuss the role should contact Ian Baker on

Salary: £27,329 pro rata (3.5 days per week)
Contract: Permanent
Closing date: 20th January
Benefits: 5 weeks per annum; family friendly flexible working

Download the full job description
Download the application form