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 www.nationalforest.org

 

 

Working Together – A New Forestry Skills Plan for England and Wales

News Release – Forestry Skills Plan for England and Wales

Smallwoods, along with nearly thirty forestry employers, associations and educational providers are proud to have pledged to work together to attract the very best of young and new talent into the sector.

This is part of a 5 year plan, published on 6th February, that aims to increase numbers of new entrants and improve the skills of the current workforce so that the growing forestry industry can reach its full potential.

The Forestry Skills Plan has four themes: talent attraction, skills and technical knowledge, education provision and employer support. The themes have been split into separate action plans that partners will develop and deliver over coming years.

The Forestry Skills Forum believes that industry bodies can achieve more by collaboration than working in isolation, and the plan will facilitate the long term, coordinated, targeted approach to tackling skills issues. Forum members are committed to using the plan to prioritise activity, work together efficiently and take control of the skills agenda in order to develop a skilled forestry workforce for the future.

To download the plan or find out more about the Forestry Skills Forum see: https://www.rfs.org.uk/skills-forum/

 

 

 

Tackling Deer Population Issues

Smallwoods Deer Awareness Training Event in Conjunction with The Deer Initiative

 Deer are a beautiful component of the British countryside, our largest land mammal and valuable component of natural capital. They are elusive, often shy but able to voraciously devour the very habitats we hold so dear. 

Deer have long been responsible for the local decline of key flora and fauna by simplifying woodland structures reducing the feeding, breeding and resting places for birds, mammals and invertebrates. 

For the woodland or land manager with a commercial focus, deer can have catastrophic effects causing tens of thousands of pounds of damage and being incredibly challenging to mitigate against. 

Our Deer Awareness- An introduction to impact assessment course is suitable for woodland owners and managers who need to undertake some form of deer management. The course will provide details on how to gather and assess the level of impact and how to implement and monitor control measures. 

This course is undertaken in partnership with the Deer initiative and the course tutor is David Jam CEO of the Deer Initiative. David has spent his career in woodland management and commercial forestry and has managed deer on a national scale for the past 15 years. 

This course will be especially beneficial for progressive woodland owners with an interest in both enhancing biodiversity and productivity of their woodlands. If your objectives are a sustainable wildlife habitat or quality timber for future generations you need to consider deer in the management of your woodlands. While deer are both a stunning visual asset and valuable element of natural capital they can conversely be severely damaging to woodland structure and productivity. 

This course is designed to give woodland owners and managers a better understanding of living and dealing with deer in your woodlands 

Participants will; 

  • Gain a understanding of UK deer species, biology and geographical distribution 
  • Learn to recognise and identify deer sign and Impacts 
  • Gain an understanding of legislation; owners and managers responsibilities. 
  • Understand how to plan woodland management with deer in mind 
  • Gain an insight into physical protection and non-lethal management options 
  • Understand lethal deer management principles and how it is undertaken 
  • Understand the value of venison as a by-product of management.C 

David Jam,
CEO of The Deer Initiative

 

 

SWA Response to the Domestic Burning Consultation

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this important consultation, which is of great significance to Small Woods members, most if not all of whom source and use wood fuel for their own use and many also supply it to others.

Overall, we would want to stress the major positive role that local woodfuel supply has in promoting sustainable woodland management and in rural economies and livelihoods. The development of local woodfuel markets has led to a significant improvement in woodland management, as the income it has provided and the enterprises it has supported has led to an increase in resources for and skills available to undertake sensitive woodland management. Not only businesses, but also significant conservation bodies across the UK are funded in part through woodfuel supply, for example Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. It is critical that as this regulation is developed that Defra do have the unintended consequence of stifling this really important sector by introducing regulations, licencing and charges that will make it impossible for small suppliers and producers to operate. We would be happy to assist Defra in the further development of this legislation.

Income from wood fuel is often invested back into the sustainable management of our native woodlands. And the ability to sell wood fuel relatively easily to local markets is part of a cycle of sustainable market that is benefiting biodiversity and local economies. Better managed woodlands are better able to facilitate improved health and well being benefits. The vast majority of small woodfuel producers exclusively serve local markets and the link between the increased demand for wood fuel and sustainable woodland management should be more fully acknowledged.

We would for example challenge the rather simplistic infographic on Page 5 of the consultation document as simply being misleading. The infographic simply estimates the PM2.5s at the point of burning, and not the whole supply chain, which for generated electricity and for gas are also dirty. The supply chains on which gas and electricity depend, involve transporting crude oil and gas long distances by sea in diesel burning tankers, which themselves play a significant role in polluting fragile marine environments. The information presented directly understates the advantages of stimulating short supply chains for well seasoned woodfuel and says nothing of its positive role in the woodland management cycle.

Local woodfuel is one of the few examples of a growing local market, where Britain is becoming increasingly self-sufficient. In the light of current events, we would not want to see systems that led to an increase in imported wood fuel just to meet the needs of accreditation or to fill the gap left by small producers pushed out of the market. For example, the small woodland sector is not well served currently by the accreditation bodies, due to the cost and complexity of accreditation. Currently, Small Woods is working with FSC and others to help address this deficiency, in order to develop an appropriate standard for small woodlands, but there is no guarantee when this will emerge, or even if it will emerge at all.

We also work closely with the woodfuel sector more broadly and have good working relationships with organisations such as HETAS, Woodsure and Grown in Britain. SWA have been meeting members and owners at rural shows and wood fairs around the country this year and it is clear this is an area of concern for many small producers and we have encouraged participation in the consultation. However, we would assess that there is universal agreement that burning seasoned wood below 20% is the right approach and we have been advocating this for some time, as the article in our Summer magazine demonstrates.

Consumer awareness of the issue is low and there should be minimum requirements for point of sale information, as well as improved information online. For example, it is very hard to find out information about the location of Smoke Control Areas, whereas previous smokeless zones were well known and well publicised.

Notwithstanding, the Small Woods Association is very much in support of the overall direction of the policy initiative and wholeheartedly supports the objectives to:

• Legislate to prohibit the sale of the most polluting fuels.
• Ensure only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022.
• Update outmoded legislation on Smoke Control Areas to bring these into the 21st century with more flexible, proportionate enforcement powers for local government.
• Work with industry to identify an appropriate test standard for new solid fuels entering the market.
• Ensure that consumers understand what they can do to reduce their impact from emissions from domestic burning

Small Woods Association
12-10-18
https://www.gov.uk/…/air-quality-using-cleaner-fuels-for-do…

 

Movement restrictions introduced to protect against tree pest in Kent

 New measures have just been introduced yesterday (16 January) to protect the country against the tree pest known as the larger eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus), which was discovered in Kent in December 2018. 

This beetle is considered a serious pest on spruce in Europe and has recently been found in the wider environment in England as part of routine plant health surveillance activity.

Legislation is being laid in Parliament that will restrict the movement of all susceptible material, including trees and wood with bark, within 50km of the outbreak sites where Ips typographus was found. 

This legislation is a necessary precaution to prevent the spread of the pest further afield and will remain in place until further notice, but will be kept under review. 

The exact boundaries of the restricted area and details of the materials under restriction will be available on the Forestry Commission website. 

Industry are also urged to remain vigilant for signs of the pest and to report any suspicions to the Forestry Commission. 

Nicola Spence, the UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said:

‘The eight-toothed spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) poses no threat to human health, but it can be a serious pest to the spruce tree species and the forestry industry.

That is why we are taking robust action through this new legislation and its restriction of movement for spruce trees in a 50km area around the outbreak.

I encourage anyone who suspects a sighting of the bark beetle to report these to the Forestry Commission online through Tree Alert.’

Please report any suspected cases HERE: https://treealert.forestry.gov.uk/

 

BIFoR/Small Woods PhD researcher update

A little update on what, Ben Howard, BIFoR/Small Woods PhD researcher is up to.

 Here we find him sizing up one of the woodland streams under consideration for study as part of the joint study into the use of coppice material in river restoration.

Ben is looking at the Carbon sequestration and Denitrification effects of using coppice material in planned green engineering in river restoration. We will hope for instance to gain a better understanding of the effects of using coppice material rather than simply dropping or leaving fallen trees into water courses to slow the flow and improve water quality.

The work has the potential to provide additional roles for coppice products which address current problems, including those highlighted in today’s announcements regarding the government’s clean air strategy

 

Updated Information on Ash Dieback

The future of our ash trees is very uncertain, it has been estimated that, the majority of ash trees in UK woodlands infected with the ash dieback disease (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus fungus) will decline and die in the next 10 to 15 years. This will have a monumental impact on our landscapes and woodlands and may bring with it a decline in the biodiversity of many species that are largely dependent on Ash.

For those who are involved in the management of UK woodlands, there has been mixed advice, uncertainty and lack of clarity on what to do and how to act and research is regularly being changed and updated as scientists are finding out more about the disease.

The advice of what to do when faced with Ash Dieback has now been updated in a Forestry Commission document for any of those responsible for the management of Ash but unsure of how to deal with impacts in woodlands you own, manage or are involved in.

we strongly recommend that all owners of woodland containing ash prepare or amend management plans to describe how this species will be managed, including giving due consideration to which alternative tree species might be used for restocking where required’ 

Management choices may vary slightly depending on the individual’s management objectives i.e. timber production or biodiversity, and this document suggests possible strategies for each.

So, whilst the future of our Ash species seems dire, there remains some hope. It is possible that, by retaining trees with low levels of damage i.e. minimal crown damage and no root collar lesions, some tolerant regeneration may result.

‘the percentage of potentially tolerant trees is likely to be very low but with careful management these could regenerate, and the species could continue to exist at low levels in mixed stands. Encouraging multiple opportunities for regeneration (through a larger number of smaller interventions for example) will increase genetic “churn” and may result in more chances of tolerant trees emerging.’ 

Find out more information here:  https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/741800/ON046.pdf