We’re often asked how we go about cutting down the trees we use for our logs at Certainly Wood. Some people have seen the devastating images of mass felling on other continents and imagine a similar approach here in the UK. In fact, the opposite is true – Certainly Wood chooses each of its trees on an individual basis. This is decided by the health of the tree, the need to thin out a particular area of woodland and its species. In a bid to stop the spread of ash dieback disease, Certainly Wood is opting to cut down more of this variety at the moment.
Woodlands actually need to be properly managed by humans to ensure they are here for the long-term, but also to take into account the wildlife that rely on them. Certainly Wood’s Forestry Manager Will Jackson takes up the story:
If a woodland is left to do its own thing, the trees completely take over, which would result in the lower levels of vegetation dying out. Imagine woodlands without any bluebells come springtime or indeed ferns, grasses and fungi at any time of the year. Not only do all these add to the beauty of a woodland, each different vertical layer provides a habitat for different varieties of wildlife. The higher, stronger tree branches provide the perfect nesting place for buzzards, for example, whilst smaller birds prefer the protection offered by denser foliage at a lower level. No matter what the purpose of a woodland, it needs to be properly managed to ensure a bio-diversity.
Older trees, for example, might feature holes or crevices making them ideal for bats to use for nesting. We also have to become nature detectives to check for signs of protected wildlife living in our woodlands e.g. nuts that have been gnawed by dormice or leaves that have been ‘folded’ by newts. Birds are also protected and in most cases, we put up additional bird boxes and, maintain wildflower meadows and create scrapes – shallow ditches that hold water even in summer. We also plant tree or shrub varieties such as hazel, privet, field maple and hawthorn that create the perfect conditions for protected species to thrive.
What’s more, there are strict regulations governing anyone involved in UK forestry to protect wildlife habitats - from butterflies and bird species through to animals like dormice and reptiles like newts. So there is no way we would be allowed to, or would want to, rip up great swathes of trees.
Nowadays, woodland management is done with wildlife being one of the major considerations. However, it is also an important measure to control disease and prevent pest as well as climatic damage.
At the end of the day, trees are as much of a crop as a field of wheat, but a healthy environment that sustains a wide variety of wildlife and that is well managed, leads to a better quality crop.