Sun, Trees, Tools and Tall Tales

You can’t organise the sun, but if we could, we couldn’t have planned it any better. On the 25th March we had the sun, we had warmth and we had lots of people having fun and learning about how and why we manage our woods (in the past and in the present).

Down in the glade – where the sun kept everyone warm – there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere whilst people ate their picnics and took part in various activities.

There was storytelling and mini charcoal making (with the odd marshmallow being toasted too). There was bird box building (18 in total now in various parts of Devon waiting for birds to nest in them) and the opportunity to have a go on a pole lathe or shave horse – people were leaving with various pieces of turned wood.

Storytelling in the glade (Photo: Paul Moody)
Completed bird box (Photo: Paul Moody)

The Natural England volunteers were out – helping to burn some brash left over from the felling process and clearing of the glade. They kept a small fire going in case anyone needed to keep warm and were demonstrating their volunteering opportunities which take place across the whole East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve.

Basket making and hurdle making were being demonstrated and as popular as ever, were the heavy horses – showing off their skills in a demonstration of horse logging.  Their ability to be completely unfazed by large numbers of people and loud machinery was impressive.

Horse logging  (Photo: Paul Moody)
Hurdle making  (Photo: Paul Moody)

The large and loud machinery (set up away from the calm of the glade) consisted of a mobile sawmill, which under expert handling, cuts up large tree trunks into specific sized planks of wood – heading for various local projects. Alongside this was the firewood logging machine – where a trunk of wood goes in one end and small firewood pieces materialises the other side.

The logging machine (Photo: Paul Moody)

Jim operates the sawmill and gives a captivating talk about the life of a tree and the milling process. One gentleman left saying that he had appreciated trees all his life, but following this talk had a new depth of understanding about how trees are grown, how they are used and how woods are managed.

Demonstrating the mobile sawmill (Photo: Paul Moody)

Sam has been involved in the tree felling at Hisley Wood – using a sensitive felling approach to protect the ground where the trees are felled.  He was able to tell people about the different felling techniques and demonstrate moving large trunks of wood using his Forwarder – lots of skill needed there.

Sam shows the various cuts involved in tree felling (Photo: Paul Moody)

We had a soil expert on hand too – telling people about the soil in their area and about the soil at Pullabrook Wood. Alongside this was a worm activity – demonstrating why worms are so important for our soils.  Children were taking part in a craft activity to make their worms to take home.

Away from this activity were various guided walks – one about dormice and another about the oil beetles found in the glades and meadows amongst the woods. The Woodland Trust Site Manager also lead a walk, to talk about the woods themselves and the specifics of how these are managed for timber and for wildlife conservation.

People stayed for the whole day, soaking up the atmosphere and the feedback was lovely.

…”I’ve learnt a lot – about the equipment, the grown patterns of trees, old crafts…”
…”I’ve learnt about dormice, woodland regeneration and management.”
…”I’ve learnt a lot about woodland management.”
…”I’ve learnt about reading tree rings and about the disease in larch.”
…”I’ve been impressed with the enthusiasm of all the people and learnt about wood working, horse logging, hurdle making.  A really good day.”

Written by Jane Craven, Woodland Trust



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