Nearly 200 people braved the weather for Cumbria’s Woodland Festival on Saturday 18th March.
Initiated by the Forestry Commission to encourage more of our woodlands into sustainable management; the Lake District National Park, Rusland Horizons and Butterfly Conservation also supported the event.
A shared interest in trees brought together different backgrounds, from the old to the young, including many small woodland owners.
Demonstrations of equipment, machinery and traditional skills ranged from large-scale firewood processors and a hydraulic portable sawmill or ‘Wood-Mizer’; to horse-logging and the opportunity to ‘have a go’ at making coppice crafts.
The event brought together different sectors of our woodland industry, enabling networking and providing professional development. A wide-ranging series of talks ran throughout the day; including relevant grant funding available, a HLF project on Ash trees; training and careers; managing woodland for butterflies; and how to detect bats in trees.
Newton Rigg were on-hand to raise the profile of career opportunities, the Royal Forestry Society’s stand included a tree identification quiz and tours of the working Wood Yard and Biomass Boiler were on offer. It was good to see a number of local forestry and arboriculture students making the most of the day.
The Rusland Horizons project had its own stand, promoting training days in traditional skills and the opportunity for woodland owners in the scheme area to access the Apprentice team, and get woodlands back into management. The National Park was also publicising how it can help access funding for new woodland creation.
Bringing woodlands into management has a range of benefits, for a prosperous economy, wildlife, the wider environment, heritage, low carbon transition and timber and wood-fuel supply - all benefits we’d like to see more of.
The event was a good opportunity for the National Park to show support for one of its local industries, and was a celebration of the traditional skills involved in managing around 12 percent of the Lake District.