Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Calling all owners & managers of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (“PAWS”)

If you own or manage “PAWS” woodland (Planted Ancient Woodland Site), the England Woodland Biodiversity Group (EWBG) would like to hear from you.

EWBG want to find out if you are considering restoring your woods (i.e. removing the plantation) to a native tree cover (or have already done so), as this is a great way to help woodland wildlife. 

They want to ask you about your approach to woodland restoration and what additional support you would find helpful. 

If you have any views please complete this online survey, the results from which will help identify future support (policy and practical) and the scale of the opportunity and challenges. 

The deadline for completed responses is 31st July 2013.

If you are unsure whether your woodland is a “PAWS” you can check here.  Use the Ancient Woodland dataset and search for your woodland. 

The EWBG comprises representatives from Government, NGO and private sector woodland interests, and aims to identify, explore and escalate issues of national concern to woodland & forest biodiversity.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Good Woods – Free Woodland Advice for Landowners and Managers

There are more than 3 million hectares of woodland in the UK, however in England alone it is estimated that more than 45% of our woodlands are either unmanaged or under-managed.

This has contributed to a decline in biodiversity, loss of amenity and skills, and poor routes to market for wood products. 

The Good Woods project will tackle these issues. This project is being delivered in Kent by the Kent Downs AONB Unit (except the High Weald area where the project is being delivered by the High Weald AONB Unit).

Woodland owners will receive a free visit from an experienced woodland management advisor who will help them understand the opportunities for their woodland, the steps they need to go through to get it into management and establish the first steps on the ‘myForest’ management system.

The ‘myForest’ website has been developed by The Sylva Foundation and helps to produce a Forestry Commission approved management plan simply and easily.

All advice is free and provided by experienced officers from the Countryside Partnerships in Kent.

If you would like to make the most of the woodland on your land, whether it is by selling timber, logs or chipwood to the local market, increasing its biodiversity or even investigating the potential for claiming Renewable Heat Incentive by installing a biomass boiler on your property then this could be the perfect first step. 

To find out more and whether you are eligible for a visit please contact:

Mike Phillips
01303 815170 

Good Woods is a groundbreaking project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. B&Q has teamed up with sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation to revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. 

For more information please visit the Sylva foundation website

Friday, 21 June 2013

New report available: A comparison of the woodfuel markets in Northern France and South East England

The Kent Downs Woodfuel Pathfinder has released a new report that looks at the current woodfuel situation in northern France and south east England.

The report is the culmination of the Pathfinder's involvement in the ERDF funded Interreg project MULTIFOR (or Multi-Functional Forestry).  It aims to highlight the similarities and differences in the woodland and woodfuel sectors in northern France and south east England and summarises information gathered during a series of cross-border activities involving French and English project partners (namely the Kent Downs AONB Unit in Kent and La Maison Du Bois and CRPF in Nord Pas De Calais and Picardie).

The report highlights a number of interesting details about the woodfuel sectors in Nord pas de Calais and Kent and provides a number of conclusions that should be of interest to a wide range of readers.

A key finding is the fact that over 80% of the privately owned woodland in northern France is actively managed.  This compares to only around 46% in Kent.  Also, the report found that silvicultural practice is far better developed in France.

In contrast the report found that the woodfuel supply chain and biomass heating sectors are much better developed in the UK where there is a far higher uptake of modern wood heating systems.  This is caused by the UK's adoption of a tariff-based subsidy for renewable heat generation (via the Renewable Heat Incentive) in contrast to France where a low-level grants-based approach is still used.

The forestry training facility, or 'marteloscope', at
Bois de la Belle Epine (Somme)

Astrid de Sainte Maresville (Maison Du Bois)
speaking at the MULTIFOR conference

Overall the reports provides a good summary of the woodfuel situation on both sides of the English Channel.

We thank partners at La Maison Du Bois and CRPF for their help in producing this report without whom some of the more insightful findings would have been missed.

The report can be viewed and downloaded here.  Any feedback on the report would be welcomed.

Woodfuel (bois energie) project partners at the MULTIFOR conference in Rouen in April 2013

Job opportunity at KWES

The Kent Woodland Employment Scheme (KWES) is looking for an experienced project leader to manage the day-to-day activities of the charity.  

KWES is a new charity set up to provide training and employment for ex-Service personnel, young people and ex-offenders in Kent’s ancient woodlands.  

KWES will work closely with landowners and environmental organisations like the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Kent Wildlife Trust and the Kent Agricultural Society to regenerate under-managed woodlands with the help of people trained by KWES. At the end of their three year training period our trainees will have obtained the qualifications needed to work in woodland management in Kent or elsewhere in the UK. 

Details on the position are below - please send all enquiries to KWES and not this blog.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Free National Trust botanical course: Identifying Plants on Chalk Grassland

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Biomass CHP takes off in Kent (...and other news)

Many apologies for the lack of blogging of late.  We have been busy with various projects following the MULTIFOR conference in April (more on this soon) and are busy preparing for a new phase of activity.  We hope to get back up-to-speed over the next few weeks.  In the meantime here is a quick round up of recent events.

Firstly, more good news from Berties Woodfuel at Hadlow.  Not content with winning 'Start up Business of the Year in the 2012' from Kent Excellence in Business Award Berties is now in the final stages of the Business Accelerators scheme.  Our congratulations go to Peter and his team.  More details can be found here.

Estover Energy, has confirmed its plans to build a 10 MW biomass CHP (combined heat and power) on the former Pfizer site at Sandwich.  The project at Discovery Park will provide around 10 MW of electricity and 20 MW of heat and will supply all of the heat and electricity needed on-site.  It will also export power to the grid.  Estover has already gained approval for two plants in Scotland and one in North East England.  

Estover's supply manager, Ben Heathcoat Amory, has provided us with a briefing on the Sandwich project and its likely implications for  wood chip supply chains in Kent and Sussex.  

Discovery Park - Sandwich
Public exhibitions are taking place this week (w/c June 17th) and the planning application with be submitted soon afterwards.  More details can be found here.

Biomass plants are a bit like buses - they all arrive at the same time!  In the same week that Estover announced their plans, STEAG New Energies announced that they have been given planning permission for a waste wood biomass CHP plant at Ridham Dock in Sittingbourne.  The plant will  produce 25MW of power and up to 10MW of heat.

The implications for biomass supply chains as a result of these new developments is potentially significant. The Estover plant will require around 100,000 tonnes of low-grade wood chip a year and the STEAG plant will burn approximately 160,000 tonnes of waste wood a year.  

STEAG biomass CHP plant
Given that only 46% of Kent's woods are actively 'worked' the Estover plant should create sufficient new demand to stimulate management in many under-utilised woods.  

The Pathfinder project will maintain contact with Estover with the aim of developing a programme of support for the supply-chain focusing on topics including sustainability, harvesting best practice, deer management and bio-security.

Finally, we would like to remind readers about Ash dieback (Chalara Fraxinea).  On various site visits recently we have noticed that many of the Ash woods are infected with Chalara, particularly those we have visited in the East Kent Downs. 

 In addition to weak foliage in the canopy there is clear evidence of the disease in coppice re-growth, natural regeneration and recently planted sites (<10 years).  

The latest information and guidance from the Forestry Commission can be found here.