Management of council woodlands

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Wood-bluebellsThe management of such woodlands, whether in town, in parks, open spaces, cemeteries, etc., or in the countryside, whatever the size, should be handed over to groups of citizen foresters and coppice worker cooperatives.

Let's face it, most councils, whatever the size, do not have the financial means, nor the wherewithal, as to managing such woods and trees and thus generally just leave them to get on with it.

The cooperative movement in the UK in early 2015 basically asked government to have all those unmanaged and undermanaged council woods (and others) to be given over to cooperative management by groups of coppice workers and such.

The great majority of all woods that are owned by the municipalities and the counties in Britain are either not managed at all, at least not in any proper manner, or are undermanaged. This is neither beneficial for the environment and wildlife nor for the local economy.

Generally council woods seem to just have tree surgeons and such contractors sent in on an ad hoc basis to fell trees that may be dangerous or such and then they are either chipped and sliced and then the chips and wood is taken to landfill or, on other occasions, the contractors are told to just leave the wood laying there. Neither is a good choice; not for the woods, nor for the local economy, and also not for the environment.

Allowing the woods to me managed by a variety of groups of citizen foresters and coppice worker cooperatives and such will bring many benefit to the woods, the local economy, and the environment even further afield than the pockets of woodlands that will be then under proper management.

All too often any attempts of woodland management in council woodlands and woods, whether owned by the county councils or the local ones, are hampered by vociferous members of the environmental movement who have a case of cognitive dissonance when it comes to trees and woods and the management of woods. The other issue, as far as the councils themselves are concerned, is the lack of funds to do it themselves. Thus those woodlands, or at least the management of them, should be handed over to people willing to manage them to the high standards that are required to bring them back to health while at the same time being able to create an income for themselves and even employment opportunities for local people.

The woods and woodlands in question are found in a variety of different settings, as already mentioned, and they all should be brought into management for the good of the wood, the environment and the local economy and it can be done.

Obviously standing mature trees should not be cut unless they are a problem in one way or another but overstood coppice must be tackled and sycamores that all too often would be regarded as useless should be cut and copses created from them and they should be managed in the appropriate rotation to harvest timber from them for a variety of wood products that they are suitable for. Those are just ideas and examples, for sure, and each and every area will have its own management requirements and to theorize about them would be a waste of time and effort here.

Suffice to say, however, that, as most councils do not have the funds and often also not the wherewithal to carry out this much needed management of the woodlands that are in their portfolio it would be best that this management be given over to the right interested individuals or groups and the sooner this is being done the better.

© 2015

For more on woodland management and especially coppicing and why, etc. see “Managing our Woods”, a small book that explains the whys and wherefores of managing our woods in this way and calls for us to return to that way.