Classes of tree
woodland by products - firewood
Going for walks in other people's woods is delightful — the trees
are for climbing, admiring and possibly for carving your initials on.
Going for walks in your own woods is rather different.
It is more
than likely that instead of admiring nature's generous hand, you
will spend your time realising that you should not be walking at
all. Rather you should be putting your wood in order. To be
productive, and often simply to be penetrable, woodland needs
maintaining. Left to its own devices, a wood quickly becomes
tangled with fallen trees and rampant undergrowth and is a haven
for foxes. If your aim is to encourage foxes then that is fine — if it
is to grow trees then it is not.
In recent years many small parcels of woodland have fallen into
a state of neglect. Woodland is often one of the first areas to feel a
cutback in labour on large estates. Smaller landowners often tend
to neglect woodland, possibly not appreciating that it is a potential
income-producer. But if you are prepared to purchase a chainsaw
and are able to wield it, remarkable feats can be performed in
a short time. If you can enroll the help of family or friends, a
veritable lumberjacking enterprise can be formed.
The first step towards taking control of existing woodland is to
categorise it according to its function.
There are four main types
1. Economic Woodland. These are specific areas, planted, managed
and farmed with the intention of producing quality timber.
2. Amenity Woodland. This includes single trees planted for their
beauty, belts of woodland planted to conceal an unwanted view
such as farm buildings and clumps of woodland planted to enhance
the landscape. The fact that these woodlands are required to be
outwardly intact means that any felling must be staggered and
3. Shelter. On some exposed properties belts of trees have been
planted to provide shelter for land and/or buildings. Before any
felling of trees takes place you must consider if this is the purpose
for which they were planted. Trees take a long time to grow and
shelter removed may well be regretted the instant the wind blows.
4. Shooting Coverts. These used to be planted simply to provide
cover for game. Today this is quite uneconomic and new shooting
coverts have to be planted with trees suitable to crop at some later
stage. To fulfil the role of a covert, thought must be given not
only to the size and shape of the wood but also to the layout (to
provide rides and so on) and to ensure that the future work necessary
in the wood will not interfere too much with the game.
you have to fulfil the dual role of woodsman and gamekeeper, you
may find continual compromise a necessity. Different individuals
performing the two roles will probably resort to the other alternative — argument.
There are three ways of planting:
1. Coppice. This is a short rotation system; poles grow from stools.
Hazel coppice is the most widespread although today more use is
made of chestnut coppice. Hazel is grown for hurdles and rods on
a seven-year rotation. Chestnut, which is grown for fencing, is
harvested on a fourteen-year cycle. If hop poles are the intended
product, it may well take twenty years to grow them. The effect
of coppice on the landscape is dynamic as in the harvesting year
the wood is taken down to the stool. Very quickly masses of bluebells
appear. However, within three or four years the area again
resembles light forest.
2. Coppice with Standards. This is often produced when an owner
has allowed his crop of coppice to grow on. Often this is because it
is uneconomic to harvest it in his area. If this is the variety of
woodland on your land, it is probably worth removing all but the
strongest shoot from each stool. This you can allow to grow on
and cut later for fencing or turnery.
3. High Forest. This consists of trees grown to maturity with the
aim of harvesting them when they are required. When they are
required is generally when it suits the owner best from a tax point
of view. Of course, when you are desperate you crop them at the
earliest opportunity! This type of forest can either have been
planted simultaneously with an aim of overall cropping or planted
unevenly with an aim of staggered cropping. The latter method
preserves the amenity value of the woodland.
If your aim is to take control of existing woodland then the
best start is to categorise your wood according to its type and
From there you can start to see an end-product.
If you are planning new woodland, you can choose the market
you are aiming at. A specific variety of willow can be grown for
cricket bats: these are most attractive trees for which you require
a good soil with a high water content (not a marsh though). This is
such a specialist area that you must establish if you have a market
before you plant.
It is worth considering growing 'instant trees' on a nursery scale.
Developers and councils often have to purchase trees in an advanced
stage of growth. Generally certain areas favour different varieties
so some market research is needed. The trees have to be lifted very
carefully and transport costs are high. However, well grown trees
command a worthwhile return.
Christmas trees have an appeal all of their own. Everyone who
plants them does so in a rosy glow of anticipation of a vast profit.
This is not the case for all who harvest them.
To produce the ideal sought-after tree requires a lot of weeding or the branches do not
spread out at the bottom.
If you have to pay for this labour, the
return on the trees is very small. Of course, a willing family can
help a lot throughout the year. A good way to avoid the labour of
harvesting the trees is to sell them on a 'pick your own' basis. This
only works when you are reasonably near a centre of population:
if you are it can be a great gimmick.
It is very necessary to have
adequate facilities for cars parking and turning, bearing in mind
that most Christmases are wet. Purchasers who saw down their
trees leave you with the work of removing the stump so it is well
worth encouraging them to dig the whole thing up. As this is an
occupation that removes father and children from the house for a
considerable time during the Christmas rush, it is a good idea to
slant your advertising towards the harrassed wife and mother. As
people tend to be in a jolly mood at this time of year, it is worth
having holly, mistletoe and perhaps also farm eggs available for
It seems that more and more people are reverting to a natural
Christmas tree but bearing in mind the vast areas designated to
their growth in remote areas, yours must be well shaped and
reasonably priced to compete.
Bearing in mind that faults in planting (poor transplants, cramped
roots and so on) may take several years to show, planting is clearly
a critical exercise.
First, make a drawn plan of the area you intend
to plant showing type, number and positioning of trees. From this
plan, mark key points directly on the ground with pegs. It is
essential that the transplants should be out of the ground for as
short a time as possible and the roots must not be allowed to dry
out in the meantime. The plants must be very well firmed in.
actual method of planting generally has to depend on the amount
of labour available but it is well worth giving the small trees as
good a start as possible. After all they may be going to grow on
for a lot longer than you are. While the trees are very small they
are at the mercy of sheep, deer, goats and other animals. A tasty
mouthful for a goat is the total destruction of your effort. It is
therefore well worth putting stockproof fencing around the wood.
With the new woodland planted the aim is now to preserve and
encourage it and a set routine is entered into.
1. Weeding. For the first few years it is necessary to weed the crop
in the summer. Failure to do this means that many of the trees
become stunted due to competition from brambles, weed seedlings
and the like. The weeding must not be performed too enthusiastically
as the plants suffer from sunscorch if they are totally
denuded of cover. This is where it becomes more difficult if you
use chemical weeders as they tend to leave the ground absolutely
2. Beating Up. This rather hearty expression merely means replacing
any plants that have withered and died. The gaps have to be
filled with strong-growing plants or else their neighbours grow
above them and the newcomers are stunted.
3. Cleaning. This takes place after the canopy has closed. This is
the time to remove any tree weeds — ones you did not plant. Also
remove any overenthusiastic ones that you did — you are aiming
for even growth.
4. Brashing. This is lopping off spreading side branches that do not
allow you to walk through the wood. It only has to be done to
just above head height and you may only wish to clear paths, not
the whole wood.
5. Pruning. To obtain fine, clean timber, prune before the butt is
more than four feet in diameter. This is not always done today as
it is a very labour-intensive procedure. For special trees such as the
cricket bat willow it is essential.
6. Thinning. As the forest grows it needs thinning. Fast maturing
varieties may require thinning every three years, others every five.
Thinning does not start until about the twelfth year of growth.
There are tables to check by height, age and diameter how many
trees need to be removed.
When woodland is established, the aim is to manage it to produce
saleable timber while preserving any other roles the area has to
There are many sources of advice available to this end.
Government officials and private companies specialise in forestry
and timber. The Timber Growers Association will give information
on reliable contractors and markets in your area. The Forestry
Commission will advise you on extradition licences and necessary
permissions to obtain before you fell. It is certainly worth taking
all the advice you can obtain on reliable purchasers in your area.
Timber seems to be an area where there are a great many small
'cowboys' working. We have had some astonishingly different
offers for standing timber and most people who sell timber have
had similar experiences.
Timber is sold either standing or felled.
When buying standing timber, the merchant will clearly leave himself
a margin for possible unsound butts. If you have felled the
timber, this will generally increase the price. Privately grown
timber is generally sold by private treaty; usually only very large
organisations can succeed in successfully auctioning timber. If you
obtain several offers for your timber, you can take the most
competitive offer. This is not always the one that offers you the
most money. Wood is unbelievably heavy. If moved without due
care and attention, it can cause a great deal of damage to land,
other trees and so on. This, of course, costs you money to repair.
Extra heavy vehicles on farm roads can cause subsidence, another
costly repair job. All these details have to be worked out before
the deal is completed. It is then essential to draw up a contract
specifying extraction routes, clearing dates, how and when you
will be paid and what compensation is payable in the event of
damage. This should be signed by both sides. It should also contain
a clause specifying that the timber is yours until paid for. This
saves you unending hassle should the firm go bankrupt.
Dedicated woodland is often advertised for sale.
It is exactly what it says: dedicated.
Basically, the land is under covenant to be kept as woodland
for ever. This means that felling can only be practised when
replanting is also practised. This procedure was started in 1947
with the aim of increasing and maintaining the growth and production
of timber in Britain.
In 1952 the Approved Woodland Scheme was added to the procedure for dedicated
woodland. If an owner did not wish to dedicate his woodland in
perpetuity, he could agree to manage it with a plan of operations
approved by the Forestry Commission.
The aim of the Small Woods Scheme scheme is to further encourage planting and timber
management. It applies to small areas of woodland that are not
suitable for the first two schemes, for example individual blocks of
woodland of less than five acres.
All the above schemes entitle the owner of the woodland to
Planting and Management grants. Further information is available
from your local Forestry Commission District Officer. Of course,
the aim of all the schemes is to encourage the managed growth of
one of our national assets: good timber.
Having a wood in a timber-producing situation also provides other
crops. The most obvious of these is firewood.
In almost every system of forestry firewood is produced. Casualty
trees, early thinnings and thick prunings all produce it. If you are
near a centre of population, advertising a delivery service of
seasoned, cut logs can produce a good trade. In some areas, it is
possible to encourage car-boot sales. Your customers can fill their
boot for a few pounds and you save on the delivery costs and
effort. Dry access is essential.
As in all dealings with the public a
little thought goes a long way. Friends of ours ordered a ton of
logs from a pleasant couple of youngsters who canvassed their
business. The stipulation was that the logs were to be unloaded at
the rear of the garage in the dry. Our likely lads came to deliver
when no-one was at home. They deposited the load as close to the
planned delivery point as they could get it, right up against the
closed garage door. The whole family spent a furious Saturday
morning removing the logs so that they could get the car out of
the garage and then loading the logs into the rear. No repeat orders
Wood-burning stove customers are certainly worth wooing
as they consume great quantities of wood every year. Of course, if
you are not near anyone who wants your logs, you will have to
become your own best customer. How about heating acres of
glasshouses with a wood-fired boiler?
Leafmould is another crop from woodland. Well decayed leafmould
packed into heavy-duty polythene bags can sell at the farm gate. If it is
attractively packed, you can try local garden centres and so on.
Attractive and seasonal greenery such as holly and ivy can sell
Farm Gate or to vegetable retailers at Christmas. It is also possible
to sell laurel and pine trimmings to florists.
With some simple equipment such as a chainsaw and machete,
rustic fencing can be produced. As most fencing is sold for an
aesthetic purpose, it must have a regular appearance. Practise on
your own fencing first!
Rustic furniture is most popular in rural areas. Its use in towns seems to
depend upon current trends. All kinds of objects can be made:
tables, chairs, benches, even bridges. Being able to display your
goods to the public is very useful; quite often nurseries and garden
centres will display goods on a commission basis which is very
helpful if your own property is unsuitable for this.