Sustainable woodland management helps to ensure the future of our woodlands, the wildlife and the livelihoods they support. The woodland management services which I offer include coppicing, hedgelaying, and charcoal burning as part of a managed cycle, as well as planting and caring for new woodland.
Coppicing involves cutting the trees in such a way as to encourage re-growth, providing an abundance of poles in future years. Traditionally coppice woodland has many trees or ‘stools’ close together so that any regrowth is forced upwards providing straight, strong poles.
Pentiddy Woods, the home of Heartwood Creations, is currently being transformed by much of the existing grassland being planted with new coppice. 8 acres over the next four years are being planted with cants (areas of coppice) of Sweet Chestnut, Ash, Hazel and Lime, interspersed with Willow, Alder, Birch and Oak.
Hedgelaying (or pleaching) makes up most of my winter work. This traditional skill helps to create a thick, good quality hedge, which is both stock proof and a great corridor for wildlife. It also provides me with a large range of materials for furniture and walking sticks.
I have worked with The National Trust at Cotehele, the County Council and English Nature on specific projects in their woodlands and hedges.
Charcoal burning has long played a part in the management of small woodlands. Today, unfortunately, it is less common as many small woods are being neglected in favour of larger, more industrialised operations.
Local charcoal is a superior and more sustainable product than imported lumpwood charcoal, and is less polluting. It burns cleaner and hotter and does not need firelighters or flammable liquids. Indeed very often you need only light the corner of the bag to start your barbecue!
Planting and caring for new woodland
I have been instrumental in setting up the Pentiddy Community Woodland in Pensilva. This project has raised the funds to purchase an 8 acre site on the edge of the village, planted 6,500 native broadleaf trees, set up a charity and handed the new woodland over to the local community.
Pentiddy Woods is the neighbouring Permaculture based smallholding, and the home Heartwood Creations. This 27 acre holding has also seen many areas planted with a total of round 15,000 trees. This is mainly aimed at creating a coppice, providing the materials for Heartwood Creations, Cornwall Woodworks and other local businesses.
Cornwall has less than 4% tree cover and is the second least wooded county in the country. Planting areas of new woodland has huge benefits for the environment, and wildlife. It can also help to secure future economic stability.