Woodlanders: New Life in Britain's Forests – Book Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Woodlanders: New Life in Britain's Forests
Edited by Ian Edwards
320 pages Hardcover
Published October 2010 by Saraband (Scotland) Ltd
Size: 25.4 x 20 x 3.4 cm
ISBN: 978-1-887354-69-1
Price: £25

WOODLANDERS: New Life in Britain's Forests” is a beautifully written and laid out book Woodlanderson what the woods of this country once were and and how they were used and about revitalizing our native woodlands and managing them for their worth.

This book is a lovely reminder of where we come from, and of why we owe so much to the wood and the trees and the plants that sustain us.

Britain's precious remaining woodlands need our interest and protection, and I hope the ideas and wonderful pictures in this book will encourage more people to get involved and also that those that often claim to be guardians of the environment will not get in the way of attempts to revitalize coppicing and other such woodland crafts and industries.

While I find this an great book there are, in places, the usual misleading comments as too “ancient” woods, which the uninitiated will understand as to woods and forests that have never been worked by man. This, however, is not so. There are no untouched woods and forests anywhere in Europe, and even the likes of the great woodlands and forests of Eastern Europe have all been worked, to some extent at least.

In Britain coppicing has been practiced for thousands of years and only since about World War II has that practice fallen into disuse and that often due to pressure of misguided environmentalists – who often have no knowledge at all – who wanted the woods to return to their ancient untouched state.

This is something that cannot be done with coppice woodlands as the coppice stools, if not worked, will simply break apart and all the tress will be gone within a short space of time, as all are of the same age, approximately.

Across Britain, people are rediscovering the spellbinding magic of our woodlands and the wealth of opportunities they offer. Some are doing this to make a living, others for the sheer pleasure of being out in the woods, but all are reconnecting to each other through their closer engagement with nature.

This beautiful book celebrates woodlanders and their passions, whether nature itself, or bushcraft skills, building tree houses, community projects, willow working, wild food or searching for fairies and elves.

Community woodlands are, in my opinion, one of the finest ways to go as far as keeping our still existing woodlands safe, so to speak, and having them worked at the same time,

In addition, new community woodlands could be created and they would not even take tens of years to be able to be used. By setting up community coppice woodlands it would already be possible to make use of some of the wood at around seven to ten years. That is when, generally, the first cut is made anyway, and some material could be used before that even for the making of walking sticks, split pegs,, and other products, especially when Hazel and Willow are in use too.

I can but recommend this book to everyone remotely interested in our woodlands and in revitalizing them into living, working entities. Some of the people in the “green” realm, pardon any pun, who are always anti such developments as to turning woodlands back into worked ones would do extremely well reading this book and taking the lessons on board.

© 2011