LlyG member blog – Training in woodland management hosted by NAAONB social forestry programme

Posted on January 19, 2015 by

Knighton Tree Allotments Trust tests out a new training session by National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB), one of a series aimed at developing skills required for woodland social action.  Here Gary Cowell, Trustee at Knighton Tree Allotments Trust, gives a short account of the ‘Understanding Woodland Management Course’.

During November and December 2014 the Community Energy Peer to Peer Mentoring Partnership ran a series of training events to support woodland management undertaken by community and social enterprise groups.   The events were led by the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (NAAONB) around hubs of interest in social forestry in AONB areas. You can find out more about this program at the end of the blog below.

About Knighton Tree Allotment Trust

I attended the “Understanding Woodland Management” course in Wyre Forest as a member of Knighton Tree Allotments Trust (KTAT). KTAT manages woodlands for the benefit of wildlife and our members. In coming together to share and learn woodland skills, we aim to manage woodland sustainably and to allow our members access to affordable woodland products – such as firewood and timber. The group was formed by enthusiastic amateur volunteers with little or no experience and we have been steadily building up our skills and knowledge since we started in 2010.

Course content

“Understanding Woodland Management” ran over two days and was a mixture of presentations, by experts in woodland management and firewood production, and site visits in the Wyre Forest AONB. The presentations covered theoretical and practical woodland management, grants and incentives, understanding how to value timber and access timber markets, and a practical workshop on calculating wood fuel volumes and energy content. You can read the full details of the course and its speakers here.

Building knowledge and skills for Knighton

The course was really good in that it built on my existing (limited) knowledge and, more importantly, the relaxed and informal atmosphere allowed me to ask lots of questions of the experts present. Our group is at the stage where we are beginning to realise what we don’t know and what skills we lack. This is very important as it means that we can concentrate scare training resources where they are needed.

The course also allowed me to see the gaps in our existing woodland management plan which we will need to address. A highlight of the course for me was when we looked at a felled oak during one of the site visits: it was fascinating to see how the many potential uses of different parts of the tree varied in value, depending on what the owner wanted to gain from it. It was also very sobering to see how much “tree” is needed to produce a fairly small piece of construction timber, and to realise how much potentially high-value construction timber is being converted into wood fuel.

I think that Welsh social forestry groups would find this course very useful especially if, like KTAT, they have more enthusiasm than expertise! Voluntary groups and social enterprises often lack the resources and/or volunteer time to pursue formal qualifications so this type of training would be invaluable in increasing knowledge and confidence. It also helps groups to network and so learn from each other and potentially share resources.Knighton blog pic

About the the NAAONB-led Community Energy Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Partnership (CEPM)

Over the summer of 2014 CEPM ran three study visits in working woodlands in the UK. Over 90 participants attended the study visits and provided a list of training and research needs pertinent to developing woodland social action.

As a result the NAAONB/CEPM Partnership ran a series of events in 2014/15 including the following –

  • Exploring relationships with woodland oweners to support more woodland social action
  • Making the most of your wood fuel
  • All things legal – a surgery session looking in detail at the legal needs of woodland social ction groups
  • Running and sustaining a successful woodland social action group
  • Understanding woodland management

These were open events aimed at woodland owners and community groups interested in managing or utilising woodland resources through social action/ public involvement.

 

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