Sunday, 25 October 2015

Autumn at Old Copse

                                            Our canine volunteer inspects felling progress

The Scots Pine plantation thin continues. The steep terrain means that  much of the timber must be carefully hand felled.  Some of the small broadleaves among the pines have been knocked about a bit  but none have been destroyed, which is a relief, and all down to the skill of the workers.  In a couple of weeks the extraction machinery will be along to transport the timber uphill to the new entrance.

 The rut has started and the fallow deer stags have started barking. On a still afternoon their deep grunting calls echo across the pond.

Trying out a new deer seat

With a great view from the top

It's the start of the wood burning season and we have quite a lot of birch firewood to shift

 A regular customer,  loading his trailer with a cord of birch

Newly emerged Honey Fungus on a pine stump

And a week later

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Forestry in Poland

With forestry operations on my mind, and felling, or at least, extraction,  with fairly large scale equipment about to begin in Old Copse,I remembered a visit to Southern Poland 25 years ago. While walking in the Tatra Mountains I came across a clearing in the woods to see a group of nuns from the local convent supervising a couple of adolescent boys using working horses to help with pine felling and extraction. The mountains are too steep to use machinery, and heavy horses are ideal for the job. They were used extensively in the rural areas, for farmwork and for transport in and around the villages, as well as for forestry work . This visit was shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall, the repercussions of which were still to be felt in rural Poland. I don't know how much things have changed in forestry work since then. 

I managed to dig up a few, now rather faded, photographs. It was a beautiful sunny late summer day, and everybody was enjoying the occasion, with the work being done at a gentle and leisurely pace. 

We looked into the possibility of using 'heavy'  horses in Old Copse, particularly as the felling will take place on a SSSI site. Working horses have a lower impact than machinery, and as they work, 'scarify' the forest floor, which encourages regeneration. Unfortunately the use of these horses for forestry has been in decline for many years and is now a niche activity in the UK, and sadly, the daily rate is too expensive for us.