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Part 1

One of the things we often get asked here at Certainly Wood is where our logs come from. People worry that we go around cutting down vast swathes of woodland, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Forests and woodlands need managing – without input from humans, trees would not flourish and much of our wildlife would disappear. We also plant in the region of 100k trees each year. Will Jackson, Certainly Wood’s Forestry Manager, takes up the story.

The first thing we do before planting anything is to undertake a site visit to evaluate its suitability. We’ll see what species of trees are already growing and thriving, which determines the mix of trees we then plant. Lowland woodlands will be different to highland areas.

Ash tree leaves

We’ll then dig some test pits to look at the soil type and depth to ascertain what trees will grow. Some trees do well in limited topsoil whilst others are able to grow in heavy clay.

Beech tree leaves

Another consideration is how exposed the woodland will be to the various elements – if it’s particularly vulnerable to the wind, we’d plant shorter, shrubbier bushes on the outside, slightly taller trees as a second layer and then the main species in the centre, giving them plenty of protection.

When it comes to growing firewood, ash has always been our No 1 choice. Because of Ash Dieback disease, we’re not allowed to plant this species any more so we grow beech and oak instead together with some sycamore.

Oak tree leaves

Planting is normally done between November and April so we’re coming to the end of the season now. The trees we plant are around 30-40cm in height. We buy them all from nurseries in Herefordshire and plant them using the slot system. Using a specialist spade, we dig five inches into the soil and then move the spade forwards and backwards to create a hole. The young tree is then planted and supported with a cane as well as wrapped with a guard. On average, one person can plant 250 trees a day.

We come back every year to check on them. Depending on the weather, we would expect around 5% of the trees planted to die, usually due to insufficient water.

The first thinning normally takes place when a woodland is ten years old. We only remove trees that are not going to make it. If we didn’t do this, they would hinder the growth of the healthy trees. We make sure we leave some dead wood behind for wildlife, such as woodpeckers.

Certainly Wood has created several forests throughout the UK, which people can visit. Now is a great time of year as trees are starting to come back to life with daffodils and bluebells starting to appear.

Peters Wood – Twyning, Gloucestershire – Grid ref SO899372
Tiddles Wood – Preston on Wye, Herefordshire – Grid ref SO397414
Potton Wood – Potton, Bedfordshire – Grid ref TL224872