Working Woods Scotland course blog by Amos

Autumn in the woodland and change is in the air. I hope you’ve been enjoying the beautiful colours as trees shed their leaves and fungi erupt from the earth. Behind the scenes, we have been working on creating a management plan for our beautiful community woodland. The consultation period for the draft plan we created has now ended, many thanks to all who contributed!

In relation to management, this past week I have been visiting some interesting places to learn more about how hardwood timber is processed and valued, and the woodlands that produce it. Let me tell you about it!

I attended the Working Woods Scotland course, run by Association of Scottish Hardwood Sawmillers. Based at the sawmill ‘Scottish Wood’ in Fife, I was part of a healthy mixture of foresters, sawyers woodworkers and timber framers learning to identify the products contained within the tree, picking out quality from fault and measuring and valuing the various logs and the sawn products that can be created from them. On day 2 we were taken around the woodlands of the Dalmeny Estate, where the foresters there took us through various aspects of silviculture, from the first plantings through to thinning and harvesting, plus the various challenges and constraints that we work within. What was really nice was to see similar challenges that we face being tackled effectively, munching mouths being one of them. After seeing the damage inflicted by grey squirrels on young hardwoods I am glad we are blessed with the red variety more than the grey! This course was a real eye-opener in terms of joining the dots, from where we stand as keepers of the woodland to what the sawmill looks for in logs and what the timber consumer looks for in crafting material. The 3 days were packed with stories and anecdotes, much laughter and pearls of wisdom gained through many collective decades of experience in the various trades that occupied us the course participants and the expert course instructors. Gavin, Rick and Jim were together masters of their fields, I could not imagine better teachers. Several friends were made on this course, and I came away full of inspiration and enthusiasm for our potential as one of Scotland’s working woodlands.

The beauty (and challenge!) of our situation of course is that we are more than a source of timber. We are a community woodland, full of life both human and non-human and home to precious memories and a wealth of stories and relationships. We are a place where people connect to all a woodland represents; wildness, peace, adventure and creativity. Still, it makes me smile to think that even a small number of trees from our community woodland may one day be fed to the sawmill, carefully dried and graded and eventually sold to men and women to be turned into any number of beautiful wood creations, linking the woodland ecology and woodland economy to a wood culture, with sustainable, ecologically sound woodland management at it’s foundation.

Here are some pictures from the course 🙂