Reflections for the New Year

Photo by Biel Morrow, Unsplash

By Ian Baker, Small Woods CEO

The connectedness of trees and our wider landscapes was brought home on a recent walk across sodden autumnal fields. Walking alongside a grassland that was managed to provide seed for overwintering birds; a great flock of finches, buntings and sparrows took to the sky, wary at my presence. They all settled in a single oak tree, which became a cloud of fluttering wings and twittering vocalisations, as they nervously waited for me to pass.

It struck me that without the sanctuary provided by this single tree, the birds may not have felt safe enough to have foraged in the field at all, rendering all the good intentions of the conservation body irrelevant. I don’t know if the conservation group factored this into their thinking, and they certainly haven’t planted any more trees to maintain the continued or wider availability of safe perches. However, we as woodland owners and managers can feel safe in the knowledge that what we are doing is providing the diversity our landscape needs, particularly for our fauna and flora. A recent report by Plantlife has highlighted concerns about the rush to plant ever more trees, which, whilst understandable, also carries the danger that important open areas could be lost due to competition between good intentions.

So, as we go into a new year, hopefully we will all continue to live with the benefits of messy, diverse and interconnected landscapes, and I hope the image of the oak tree crowned with wings and bird song is one that warms you as we go through the darkest days of winter.

Happy New Year!

Ian Baker, Small Woods CEO

Photo by Biel Morrow, Unsplash


Get Rooted Tree Planting

Get Rooted. Credit: Oboz Footwear

Get Rooted. Credit: Oboz Footwear

Graham Morgan, Small Woods Woodland Management Advisory Officer writes:

On Saturday 23 November 2019, The Small Woods Association, along with project partners and a keen and hardy herd of volunteers, planted trees in the grounds of Skiddaw House in Cumbria; the highest hostel in Britain and completely off grid. The event is the first such tree planting in the UK for project partner Oboz Footwear as part of its global tree planting initiative. It was also a great opportunity to highlight the challenges and opportunities for upland catchment management which includes flood prevention, adaptation and mitigation for the climate emergency (capturing carbon), farming, and a landscape of high amenity value used for recreation.

We braved blustery winds, driving rain and a freezing windchill to walk up the fellside to Skiddaw House, situated 500m above sea level. Neville from Cumbria Woodlands selected a great location for the event, and provided an informative and comprehensive demonstration of tree planting, including the technique of ‘screefing’ using a spade to remove the top surface of the ground. We planted approximately 50 alder, rowan and birch trees ideally situated for the upland conditions. We also spent time tending to existing tree saplings at the site. In time, the trees will provide much needed protection for the hostel from the elements, aswell as provide increased habitat diversity for wildlife, and carbon capture. Sites like these make a significant difference that outweighs their modest size.

The hostel managers Suzy and Martin provided essential and top class hospitality within Skiddaw House itself, with a warm welcome, hot tea and coffee and sumptuous cakes.

Thanks are due to colleagues from Sprayway who hosted a stall at SR Cunninghams in Ambleside all day too, spreading news of the event. Thanks are also due to Outdoor Instructor John Brooks and his colleague Alex for providing the mountain safety cover for the group.

The cloud eventually lifted on the return walk, and we were rewarded for our efforts with an inspiring view down the Glenderaterra valley of the colourful autumnal landscape. It was a grand day out in the fells, and we look forward to returning to continue the story.

Don’t worry if you missed out on this event, more Oboz tree planting events will be taking place in the spring time. Visit to find out how you can get involved.

For Small Woods events and courses visit:


Stihl Chainsaw Christmas 2019 Auction

Bid to win a Stihl Chainsaw in our Christmas Auction !

Sealed bids by Friday 20 December 2019.

We are hugely grateful to our supporters Stihl who have very kindly donated a STIHL MSA 200 C-B battery powered chainsaw with battery and charger, worth £570 RRP.

We will be auctioning the saw just before Christmas so please submit your sealed bids by Friday 20th December. To Julia Allinson at Small Woods, The Greenwood Centre, Station Road, Coalbrookdale, Telford TF8 7DR.  Please include your name and contact details on the sealed bid.

Good luck!


Woodland Restoration – challenges new and old

Skills Share 2019 and AGM

21st-22nd September 2019

Working Woodlands Centre, Maulden Wood, West End, MK45 3UZ

This year The Greensand Trust on the Greensand Ridge is hosting our Skills Share Programme and Annual General Meeting.

The ridge itself is a mixed greensand/sandstone escarpment stretching over 45km located mostly in Bedfordshire. The thin sandy soils supporting a very different landscape with a distinctive mosaic of habitats and land uses.

The Greensand Trust is an independent charity that works with the local communities and landowners to develop opportunities to link the landscape, heritage, wildlife and people in the region to help conserve and enhance the natural environment for all.

Join us at the Working Woodlands Centre for the talks, AGM and activities, a light lunch and refreshments on 21-22 September. There will be plenty of time for you to chat with fellow woodland enthusiasts and meet our staff and trustees.

We have a range of fascinating speakers:

Jon Balaam, Director of Development, The Greensands Trust

Jon will introduce the “Working Woodlands Training and Education Centre” in Maulden Wood, an initiative created to help bring under-managed and under-utilised woodlands back into positive management

Rebecca Oaks – Author and Coppice Champion

Rebecca has written three successful coppicing and coppice craft books (2 co-authored with Edward Mills – see below), one of which won the Woodland Awards best books of the year by Rebecca was also instrumental in forming The National Coppice Federation in 2014. She will talk about how coppice training can open up opportunities for more people to get involved in woodland management.

Suz Williams – Small Woods Coppice Apprentice

Following on from Rebecca’s talk, Suz, will talk about her story, as a city girl who is now carving out a future in woodland management.

In the afternoon there will be a range of woodland restoration workshops to choose from including reading neglected woodlands,  and meeting new and old threats and challenges of woodland restoration as well as craft demonstrations and posters and displays on Small Woods projects.

Sunday 22nd September

On there will be a 2 hour walk (starting at 10:30 am) which will be guided by naturalist Sue Raven, Ecologist, Senior Biodiversity Officer, The Greensands Trust.

For more information or to book a place contact Sonia on 01952 432769 or email



The Royal Welsh Show 22nd -25th July

We are once again attending the Royal Welsh Show from the 22nd – 25th July

We can be found at two sites, on the Llais y Goedwig stand and the Confor stand. Llais y Goedwig will have an exciting range of demonstrations and activities. And Confor a fantastic line up of speakers on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, covering all topics from dealing with Ash Dieback, Welsh timber in construction, and decarbonisation’ through to ‘future foresters and training’. Follow the link RWS seminar programme for the full programme of events being held in the Confor tent.

We look forward to meeting you there


Social prescribing woodland project receives new funds to flourish in Wales

Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) is pleased to announce that we have been chosen as one of 17 successful projects in Wales to be awarded the Healthy and Active Fund (HAF).

Welsh Government, Sport Wales and Public Health Wales have come together to deliver the first phase of the £5.4m Healthy and Active Fund (HAF) – aiming to improve mental and physical health by enabling the adoption of healthy and active lifestyles across Wales. Phase 1 of the HAF will provide £5.4m of financial support, over a period of 3 years (April 2019 – March 2022), to projects that strengthen and develop community assets.

Money has been awarded to organisations who actively promote and enable healthy activity for one or more of the following groups:

· Children and young people

· People with a disability or long-term illness

· People who are economically inactive or who live in areas of deprivation

· Older people and those around the age of retirement from work

Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health and Social Services said: “The projects we are funding seek to reduce inequalities in outcomes and barriers in a variety of ways. From intergenerational approaches to gardening; encouraging families to get active with their new born babies; to increasing physical and social activities for people living in care homes. There are other projects that look to support people with mental health issues to lead independent and long-term active lifestyles, and one that uses sporting memories to help people with dementia.”

Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) has 10 years of experience as social forestry experts. The Healthy and Active Fund and Natural Resources Wales funding will enable us to develop our pioneering Actif Woods Wales programme, improving the health and wellbeing of local communities through woodland activities across Wales. Free weekly woodland sessions include physical activities, nutrition and woodland skills for anyone who would benefit from improved health and wellbeing, including adults, children and families (e.g. woodland gym, conservation, bushcraft). We welcome GP referrals for people experiencing low level physical, mental or social issues (e.g. obesity, depression, unemployment, isolation).

In this new phase Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) aims to work closely with community organisations and health and social care networks to co-produce woodland activity programmes and increase understanding of social prescribing. Our hope is that Actif Woods Wales can be replicated in any woodland site in Wales, supported by a new woodland activities code of practice. We also aim to build the capacity of local groups through skill development and training and to help them develop woodland sites as long-term community assets.

Amie Andrews, Project Manager for Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) said: “This is an exciting time for Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales). As pioneers in the field of social forestry, the Healthy and Active Fund enables us to continue our 10-year legacy helping to improve the health and wellbeing of people across Wales. We hope to inspire communities and healthcare professionals alike with the benefits of social prescribing, caring for ourselves and nature, by getting out and about in the woods.”


Contact Amie Andrews – Project Manager, Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales): l 01654 700061 ext. 22

Healthy and Active Fund Projects – The 17 successful projects are spread across Wales, including the Valleys Task Force area.

  • ‘Actif Woods Wales’ Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales)
  • ‘Sporting Memories’ – Sporting Memories Network CIC
  • ‘Growing Together’ – Keep Wales Tidy
  • ‘Balanced Lives for Care Homes’ – Action for Elders Trust
  • ‘HAPPy’ – National Trust
  • ‘Super-Agers’ – Bridgend County Borough Council
  • ‘West Wales Let’s Walk’ – Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
  • ‘Welsh Active Early Years Programme’ – Early Years Wales
  • ‘Healthy & Active Newport’ – Newport Live
  • ‘Play Ambassadors’ – Play Wales
  • ‘Babi Actif’ – Eryri-Bywiol Cyf
  • ‘Healthy Body – Healthy Mind Project’ – Women Connect First
  • ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ – Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
  • ‘StreetGames’ – Street Games UK Ltd
  • ‘Opening Doors to the Outdoors’ – The Outdoor Partnership
  • ‘Cyfellion Cerdded Cymru’ – Living Streets Cymru
  • ‘BeActive RCT’ – Interlink RCT


Small Woods AGM and Skills Share, 21st & 22nd September 2019

Our AGM and skills share is now open for bookings have a look at our events page for more information and to book a place.

Its being hosted this year by The Greensands Trust in Bedfordshire at the Working Woodland Centre and we have an exciting range of speakers lined up, as well as a range of craft demonstrations on the Saturday and a guided walk in the woodland adjacent to the Working Woodland Centre on Sunday morning.

Places are limited so early booking is essential!


Ash dieback is predicted to cost £15 billion in Britain

Ash dieback is a fungal disease, originally from Asia, which is lethal to Europe’s native ash trees. It was first found in Britain in 2012 and is thought to have been brought to the UK years earlier on infected imported ash trees. It is expected to kill 95-99% of ash trees in Britain.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford, Fera Science, Sylva Foundation and the Woodland Trust has calculated the true economic cost of Ash dieback – and the predictions, published today in Current Biology, are staggering:

· The total cost of Ash dieback to the UK is estimated to be £15 billion

· Half of this (£7 billion) will be over the next 10 years

· The total cost is 50 times larger than the annual value of trade in live plants to and from Britain, which is the most important route by which invasive plant diseases enter the country

· There are 47 other known tree pests and diseases that could arrive in Britain and which may cost an additional £1 billion or more

The predicted costs arise from clearing up dead and dying trees and in lost benefits provided by trees, e.g. water and air purification and carbon sequestration. The loss of these services is expected to be the biggest cost to society, while millions of ash trees also line Britain’s roads and urban areas, and clearing up dangerous trees will cost billions of pounds.

Dr Louise Hill, researcher at Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford and lead author of the study, said:

The numbers of invasive tree pests and diseases are increasing rapidly, and this is mostly driven by human activities, such as trade in live plants and climate change. Nobody has estimated the total cost of a tree disease before, and we were quite shocked at the magnitude of the cost to society. We estimate the total may be £15 billion – that’s a third more than the reported cost of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in 2001. The consequences of tree diseases for people really haven’t been fully appreciated before now.’

Dr Nick Atkinson, senior conservation advisor for the Woodland Trust and co-author of the paper, said:

When Ash dieback first entered the country, no one could have fully predicted the devastating impact it would have on our native habitats. To see how this has also affected our economy speaks volumes for how important tree health is, and that it needs to be taken very seriously.

‘It is clear that to avoid further economic and ecological impacts, we need to invest more in plant biosecurity measures. This includes better detection, interception and prevention of other pests and diseases entering the country. We need to learn from past mistakes and make sure our countryside avoids yet another blow.’

The scientists say that the total cost could be reduced by replanting lost ash trees with other native trees, but curing or halting the disease is not possible. They advise that the government’s focus now has to be on preventing introductions of other non-native diseases to protect our remaining tree species.


· A nationwide replanting scheme could reduce the overall cost by £2.5 billion, by ensuring that lost ecosystem services are replaced

· Greater focus on and investment in biosecurity and sourcing of safe plant material is needed to keep new diseases out

· Introduce far tighter controls on imports of all live plants for planting, as this is the largest pathway through which tree diseases are introduced

The full paper can be found here:


Woodfuel Workshop – responding to the air quality challenge

Come along to our live event, in association with Woodsure, held at our Headquarters in Coalbrookdale, Telford TF8 7DR on Friday 3rd May 2019

This workshop is to understand the science behind the government’s push on firewood in the clean air strategy and to find a way forward for the smaller firewood producer – what help or assistance is required.  This event should be of interest to woodland owners, coppicers, arboriculturalists and other small firewood producers.

Woodsure Live at Small Woods – click here for further information and to register

This is a fantastic opportunity to meet staff from Woodsure, Small Woods and Grown in Britain – there will be update and presentations together with an open Q&A.

Small Woods are happy to provide a guided tour after the seminar

Refreshments will be provided. Further details will be sent out nearer the time, once registered


Secretary of State visits the National Forest

Environment Secretary Michael Gove visited the National Forest last week to learn more about how trees have transformed this 200 square miles of the Midlands.

Since 1991, the planting of more than 8.7m trees has brought economic, social and environmental benefits throughout parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

The Secretary of State met John Everitt, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company (NFC) and William Worsley, Chair of the NFC and national Tree Champion. They updated the Secretary of State on how this year the NFC with its partners has created a further 250 hectares of forest habitat, contributing to the overall increase in forest cover from 6% in 1991 to 21% today – more than twice the national average. The National Forest has also reached a milestone of achieving 75% woodlands in active management, well ahead of the national average of 59%.

Michael Gove said: “It has been wonderful to visit the National Forest today to see the vast amount of work underway to maintain and enhance this vital natural asset.

“Trees are living evidence of our investment in future generations. As we strive to grow our woodland cover we must continue to encourage and support large-scale projects like this one to secure a greener, healthier future.”

William Worsley said: “We were delighted to host the Secretary of State here in the National Forest and hear his enthusiasm for the important role that trees can play in environmentally-led regeneration. We were able to highlight how the National Forest Company, working with partners, delivers both exceptional value for money and great public benefits, demonstrating how the aims of the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan can be achieved.”

The Secretary of State visited Beacon Hill Country Park with Rt Hon Nicky Morgan to also see the Charnwood landscape, part of the National Forest, and hear about the plans for connecting habitats, increasing access and engaging people through the Heritage Lottery funded Charnwood Forest Landscape Partnership Scheme.

For more information on the National Forest see