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On 10 February, two members of Vert Woods Community Woodlands, a MLWW participant group in East Sussex, travelled up to Conwy in North Wales for a study visit to Elwy Working Woods. The focus of the visit was around sawmilling operations and adding value to wood products.

Christine Meadows from Vert Woods kindly sent us her thoughts on the experience: “We were impressed by Adrian’s determination in developing a community-based working woodland in a location where forestry is not part of the rural tradition.

The use of a co-operative of skilled workers has allowed him to develop capability and gain access to a range of equipment. His efforts to bring interest from other landowners in woodland management definitely struck a chord with us. Looking at the future prospects, it seemed that solving the problem of affordable accommodation to allow young people access to work around woodlands would be very important in maintaining the success at Elwy. That problem is magnified for us in the South-East where housing is even more expensive.”

Adrian Farley, Director of Elwy Working Woods, was on hand to welcome the Vert Woods group and said: “I’m very pleased that Tom and Christine found their visit rewarding. We brought in a couple of big Scots Pine logs from another site and I had one of my lads doing the cutting while we discussed the various pros and cons of adding value to Scots Pine. Scots has a few peculiarities such as its large proportion of sapwood and its tendency to discolour if left too long in the log and again if not given plenty of air when in stick.

There are too many small, but important, details regarding the sawmilling operation to cover in a short time, but I’m happy that we touched on the most important ones. Walking through the wood always brings up a million and one things but I hope they got an impression of an almost continuous operation of thinning, high pruning, restocking, etc.

Lastly, we visited our new workshop which although not yet fully operational hopefully gave them an understanding of the importance of adding value and providing a decent workplace with proper equipment. We squeezed in a fleeting visit to our other site a couple of miles away which gave me the opportunity to show them that these nearby woods bring different possibilities, materials, and people which can enhance the ‘home’ operation enormously.”

If you would like to find out more about Vert Wood, please visit their website.

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