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Woodland owners see behind the scenes of unique conservation project

Andrew Kitching of Rural Development Initiatives, Richard Pow of the Forestry Commission, Dave Robson of EGGER Forest Management and Kath Marshall-Iven

Woodland owners from across the North of England gathered for a day with volunteers and businesses at one of the UK’s latest Lottery-funded landscape partnerships – The Land of Oak & Iron.

Organised jointly with the Forestry Commission and Rural Development Initiatives, the event showcased opportunities to get involved in this major project that is working with partners to conserve and enhance the natural, industrial and cultural heritage of an area surrounding the River Derwent from just north of Durham City to the banks of the Tyne near Newcastle.

This area has the highest concentration of ancient woodland in NE England and the Forestry Commission and other partners are keen to see more of these woodlands sustainably-managed.

The group met at WoodFuelBarn – the first wood fuel supplier in the UK to achieve Woodsure +Plus Quality Fuel Accreditation and the first in the North East to be HETAS approved.

Delegates were updated by the Forestry Commission and industry experts including Rural Development Initiatives and EGGER Forestry on available planting grants and schemes such as Roots to Prosperity and Grown in Britain.

During a site visit to nearby Milkwellburn Wood – managed on behalf of owners the Durham Wildlife Trust by EGGER Forest Management – they had the chance to experience the latest mechanised options for adding value to felled timber and learn how effective forest management can increase revenues as well as meeting biodiversity and conservation objectives.

Specialist green woodworkers were on hand to demonstrate products made from coppice and thinnings resulting from woodland management within The Land of Oak & Iron area. Volunteers are also active in the local woodlands processing brash left behind from thinning works.

Forestry Commission partnerships and expertise manager Richard Pow who helped to organise the event said: “Making Woodlands Work proved to be a very popular event and was over-subscribed within days of places being made available.

“As well as giving delegates an overview of new initiatives that could help them to expand and develop their own forestry activities, it was also an unique opportunity for them to see behind the scenes of the exciting new landscape partnership The Land of Oak & Iron.”