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Thinning Out A Bit

In our latest update about the life of a properly managed woodland, we take a look at how Certainly Wood carefully selects just the right trees to create its top notch brand of kiln dried logs. Certainly Wood’s Will Jackson takes up the story:

Having nurtured the new trees from the moment they are first planted, we then leave them to grow and bulk up for around 7 – 12 years depending on their species.


If we abandoned them entirely with no further management, they would start to compete with each other – some trees would do very well, whilst others would simply give up and die.

In extreme cases, a new woodland might end up with large swathes of dead trees. Left unmanaged, this further increases the risk of disease as trees, just like humans, become stressed if they have to fight for basic needs like sunlight and water.


To stop this happening, we use a rather scientific method to measure the trees called the DBH or the Diameter at Breast Height in cm. Here’s a link to Wikipedia if you’re a bit of a brainiac and would like to know more  Diameter at breast height - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia

From this measurement, we then establish the basal area, which actually tells you at what age the trees will start to feel stressed so that we can plan when to start thinning them out. Wouldn’t it be great if something similar existed for people!


Again, for a more detailed explanation on the Basal area, back to Wikipedia -  Basal area - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

We then remove the weaker trees to be used for firewood or kindling and allow the strongest ones to continue to grow and become our ultimate crop. Of course, Mother Nature sometimes has her own plans as we have discovered through the likes of the disease Ash Dieback.

When we’ve determined the trees to be thinned, we have to apply for a felling license from the Forestry Commission. This involves creating a management plan, outlining our plans such as the species to be felled and the total volume we plan to remove. In cases where trees have died, we are required to produce a restocking plan as well.


This plan goes onto a public register and a woodland officer will inspect the wood prior to the license being granted – a process which usually takes around eight weeks. On top of this, we also have to plan extraction - in other words, the way in which we’re going to fell the trees then get the timber to a place where a lorry can pick it up. Likewise, we have to make sure we stick to the habitat regulations laid out by the Forestry Commission, which protects species like dormice and certain lizards and snakes. This also has an impact on the time of year we can fell trees and how the work is done – we cannot fell trees when birds are nesting, for instance.


We also have to take into account the ground conditions to prevent any long-term damage. For example, if the site gets very wet, then it makes sense to do the work in summer when it’s dry, that way avoiding damaging the ground by creating deep ruts or disturbing bluebells and so on.

We then decide which contractor to use for the job, undertake a risk assessment that looks for things like uneven ground, power cables, nearby houses and so on, which the contractor has to sign and also provide them with a copy of the felling license so they’re aware of any of the conditions laid out for the job. We also require a copy of their insurance and a mutual understanding of the work plan – it’s imperative the contractor has insurance and is covered if anything goes wrong.

As the work proceeds, the woodland will be checked and any issues that arise can be discussed such as diseased trees we’ve not previously spotted or a large nest belonging to a bird of prey.


Once felled, the timber is transported to our farm for processing very quickly to prevent any of it being lost in the under growth, as you’d be surprised how quickly it grows after felling.


Next time we’ll take a look at what happens when the wood reaches Certainly Wood’s farm.