The Big Felling Operation, Summer 2004Now for something quite different from 19 years ago: Clear-felling a large area of Broad Wood and thinning the rest was a very big first step towards the planned regeneration of the wood from a neglected conifer plantation to managed broadleaf, and was only made possible by grants towards the construction of a track for the extraction of timber and another for the actual felling operation, with the balance coming from the sale of the timber. In fact, the latter proved to be well lower than the forestry adviser’s estimates, resulting in my needing to sell a few acres of Broad Wood to the occupants of Broadwood House, firstly to gain their permission to straighten the track to get the large machinery in, but also to avoid a loss of several thousand pounds resulting from the poor timber revenue. A hard first lesson in the difficulties of forestry management! Here’s a couple of photos of some of the machinery at work, and pretty brutal it looked at the time. Here’s a few extracts from my late summer 2004 newsletter:

The Big Felling Operation, Summer 2004“I spent some time trying to imagine what it will look like when the felling has been carried out, and apologising to those trees to be sacrificed for the long-term greater good. Once the felling and clearing has been completed we then have until July 2007 to replant the area with 2,500 broadleaf trees, the majority of them oaks with a proportion of ash and other indigenous species.” “ I’ve now been down to the woods to see the activity there. It has changed Broad Wood a lot, and looks quite devastating, but at the same time exciting, as it is the start of the regeneration of that wood.”

Here’s the cut & stacked timber ready to be loaded and transported out of the woods, and below shows it loaded onto the trailer down at Darley Ford, waiting to be sent off to the sawmills. The photo below is taken from near the top of Broad Wood before any re-planting.

The Big Felling Operation, Summer 2004The Big Felling Operation, Summer 2004As it worked out, thanks to the absolutely sterling work of our volunteers, who became collectively known as the ‘Ruffy Tuffy Gang’, we didn’t need until 2007. Re-planting started in January 2005, and was virtually complete by the summer of 2006. However, there was still plenty of work to do clearing and burning brash, as the photo below, taken in January 2006 shows. You can see all the tree guards on the slope above the path where the new trees had gone in.

More about the re-planting and other events next time…………