BE INSPIRED: ADDING VALUE WITH NON-WOOD FOREST PRODUCTS
As the leaves on the trees change colour, the arrival of Autumn means it is time to gather berries, mushrooms and nuts. The woodlands have an abundance and value beyond timber and Dyfi Woodlands is developing ways in which to add value to both the social and commercial activities of the social enterprise by harvesting these products and looking at innovative methods of adding value to them, writes Zena Wilmot of Dyfi Woodlands.
Dyfi Woodlands is a collective of experienced woodland practitioners specialising in social forestry, outdoor learning, woodland management and research. We aim to develop local woodlands as places of community engagement and resilience, managing them sustainably to support learning and livelihoods. Dyfi Woodlands has had support from Making Local Woods Work to start diversifying our income generation.
We were inspired by the Startree project which funded us to undertake an action research project into uses of wild woodland fungi and to get training in beekeeping in a woodland environment.
The fungi work led to the discovery of spalting as a way to increase the value of timber and timber products. My attention was drawn to spalting when I was on a mushroom identification course; I was speaking with a woodworker from South Wales who told me that he sometimes leaves logs outside for six months or more in the hope that they would spalt. The markings left in the wood by the fungi could add significant value to the wood, but if left too long the wood became too soft and was lost altogether. More information about spalting can be found here in a blog post by Zena.
Keeping bees in woodland clearings is a great way to have an additional income from your woodland. It sits well with the woodland management season as most of the beekeeping is done in the summer months.
We are currently looking at ways to expand our capacity for woodland management through training more of our team to use chainsaws and to purchase small-scale forestry machinery. This will give our social enterprise a more sustainable income throughout the year that is not dependent on grant funding. The profit from these endeavours will support the social side of our enterprise, increasing the opportunities for people in the local community to engage with local woodlands for the benefit of communities and woodlands in the area. We are looking at how we can put into practice the research and training that we undertook with the Startree project and add value to our products through courses and directly harvesting and using non-wood forest products from local woodlands.