We are pleased to announce that Bill Mason was elected Chairman of the Continuous Cover Forestry Group at the AGM on 2nd May, 2012. He takes over from Phil Morgan who resigned to take up the prestigious position of President of ProSilva Europe.

Bill has been the chair of the Scottish committee of CCFG for the last four years and has extensive experience of continuous cover silviculture through his work as a silvicultural researcher with the Forestry Commission. In addition, he has gained practical experience of implementing continuous cover forestry over several decades of managing the family woodlands in Nottinghamshire.

This new book, first published in France in 2010, is now available in English. The book presents the approach to irregular silviculture developed by a group of leading French foresters and the network of research stands they have developed to monitor this type of silviculture. The network was established twenty years ago and has now collected data over fifteen years that detail the biological, economic and environmental development of stands spanning the range of species mixtures and regions across France. The network has expanded further with research stands in England, Belgium, Luxemburg and Ireland. Five new research stands in Ireland will be set up before the next growing season and plans for further espansion in Wales are underway. Download brochure or Place an Order

The Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development with responsibility for forestry in Wales, John Griffiths AM, planted a Welsh oak last Thursday to illustrate the principle of carbon sequestration and the benefit in planting new trees in Wales to capture atmospheric carbon and turn it into useful material for substitution; all this being done simply by photosynthesis using the sun’s energy.

The occasion was one of the three annual meetings of the Woodland Strategy Advisory Panel (WSAP) where our chairman, Phil Morgan, represents the group.

Water, another important ingredient required to oil the wheels of sequestration, was in such overabundance on the day that the photo opportunities pointed to reasons why our new thirst for sequestration in Wales has taken so much urgency.

What we do with our forests when we have planted the 100,000 hectares we plan to establish over the next 20 years is in question. And even more importantly what do we do with the ones we already have? We already have 303,500 hectares of woods and forests or about 14.3% of the land in Wales. Tree planting has very definite limits; additionality cannot be toped when we have reached the point of optimal land-use potential or equilibrium. There is only a very limited amount of land still to be planted with trees in Wales for additional sequestration so there may be more value in concentrating on improving the established resource. This drive for new planting may be a convenient distraction being promoted by a profession struggling to wean itself from a culture of controlling species and production cycles. Very encouragingly there were real signs during the visit to a move towards integrated systems where we gain benefits from using natural processes. There is definitely a desire to explore ways to adopt close to nature forest principles so that we grow better timber more cost effectively and provide the sort of environmental safeguards that will mitigate the effects of the rains that nearly washed the Minister away, while also increasing niche spaces for wildlife to develop greater complexity and increasing our carbon storage capacities.

Convincing a profession such as foresters that change is a good thing is hard enough. It is a different issue when convincing the public because they are the owners of the forest and are not concerned with the technical arguments their managers can argue endlessly about. Conveying the right image is all important, and if that message is wrong, it can undo the best of plans. So, if we want to make an argument for forests being guardians of carbon, we have to be clear about what we are saying and to convey the idea in the best possible way. Somehow “come and see our carbon clearfell” or “come, let me show you how we clearfell the carbon” does not go down too well at all. However, “come walk with me in our forest which is here for ever and see how the trees produce the wood to build and heat your homes and are homes for wildlife and how they keep our rivers clean” is much better but much too long and sounds like a cracked record… “Come to the Carbon Forest” has the right ring to it.

The CCFG Wales field visit was held on 5th October by kind invitation of the Mostyn Estate. Phil Davies, one of our most loyal members, offered to arrange the visit to show the group around the estate as this year’s CCFG Wales field visit. His father, Richard Davies, the estate forester provided an outstanding insight into how the woodlands are an integral part of the estate and of the local economy, intertwining the social and the economic history of this fascinating place through a mix of hard headed business and philanthropy and a firm belief in the benefits of continuous cover.

An excellent CCFG Technical Meeting was held on Thurs 23 June in spectacular Wythop, Winlatter Forest Park and Dodd Wood, all around Bassenthwaite Lake in North Cumbria. The Forestry Commission hosted a meeting attended by 45 people to look at the technical and silvicultural issues of transformation to multifunctional, close to nature forestry, in an area of Britain that exemplifies the multiple demands placed upon forestry. The impressive turnout demonstrated the thirst for knowledge for practical solutions and for a greater understanding of the benefits of integrating multiple objectives of management. The vision of massive high quality trees, harvested with minimal impact to the environment, sequestrating carbon while providing the greatest multiplicity of habitats for wildlife, on a cycle track overlooking one of the great iconic landscapes of Britain will stay with all those who attended. We left thinking that all British forests should aspire to this new vision.

CCFG visit to Romania

During July 12 members of the CCFG and 2 students who were funded by Woodland Heritage visited the Timisoara district of Romania where they were guests of Romanian colleagues from ProSilva Europe. By all accounts the visit was very stimulating and equally enjoyable, and we are looking forward to reading more about it in the next issue of the CCFG newsletter which is due out in the late autumn.

We are pleased to announce that Claire Wightman, who is studying for her HND in forestry at Inverness College, and Saskia Wischnewski, who is studying for a BSc in Marine Biology at Aberdeen University, have each been awarded £500 bursaries to enable them to go on the CCFG study visit to Romania this July. We are looking forward to hearing more about their trip in the next edition of the CCFG Newsleter.

During May CCFG ran a 2 day workshop on Timber Harvesting with Professor Hanns Höefle of Göttingen University. The course, which was held in the beautiful Stourhead Estate, included both seminars and visits to local estates for field demonstrations. Articles and downloads from the course will be available in the ‘Resources’ secion of this website shortly.