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The Art of Natural Forest Practice
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Left – Trees for timber - ash (Fraxinus spp) seedlings growing through a light protecting bramble cover.

Who decides what is done and how?

Both we and nature intervene in the woodland changing its character.  We must learn from nature when to intervene and how this is done.  We must NOT think of ourselves as managers, dictating what will be done in the woodland, but rather view our role as working with nature, giving a helping-hand to restore the health of the woodland.
This role is remarkably similar to working with human communities, rather than intervening to provide for.  The first encourages self-sufficiency, the later creates dependency.  Don’t impose, let nature remain in control, Rather than one big intervention and nothing for years (which can be very damaging), do a little year on year leaving a light footprint.  Observe and reflect for a full year before intervening, through all four seasons.  Remember that healthy ecosystems contain the appropriate habitats- not the other way round.
On what grounds am I intervening?
I am working towards a policy that increasingly governs all I do in the woodland.  Every time I think to intervene I ask myself am I:-
* Enriching the fragmented woodland ? (our woods are small fragments of the original), eg water features;
* Compensating for extinctions ? eg- loss of beavers and old trees;
* Controlling/ culling non-native species ? Introduced, some damage the ecosystem, eg rabbits, grey squirrels, Spanish bluebell, hybrid archangel, the list is long.
* Growing some trees for timber ?  Every woodland should produce some quality trees to provide for future expenditure and support the local economy;
* improving the landscape ? eg. sense of exploring and adventure, providing for spatial continuity along rides, feeling that the woodland goes on for ever, enhancing views, etc.




Left – Compensating for extinctions - building beaver dams to halt stream erosion.  Volunteers love this kind of work.