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Small and Farm Woodlands


This Award is to recognise and reward smaller woodlands which have been brought back into management in the last ten years and is aimed principally at the hands-on woodland owner, including farmers.

2016 award winners were: Gold: Sawrey Ground Plantation, near Hawskhead, Cumbria, owned by Gary Primrose and Derek Hook. Silver: Moss Wood, near Hexham, Northumberland, owned by James Ogilvie. More details below

Gold: Sawrey Ground Plantation, near Hawskhead, Cumbria, owned by Gary Primrose and Derek Hook

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Gary Primrose collects gold with Owen Davies (judge) left and John Harris (RASE) right

Sawyer Ground Plantation was leased by the Forestry Commission (FC) as part of their Grizedale Estate from the Cowper Essex family and was managed conventionally as a timber crop until 2000 when part of it was taken on to experiment with Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF). It was put on the market in 2010 and sold to the current owners, Gary Primrose of Yewfield and Derek Hook. Part of it was then sold to the National Trust who own adjacent property to the west (Tarn Hows).

The 18.3ha woodland has since been managed by Gary Primrose. It has included a 5ha section of 21-year-old hybrid larch prone to windthrow which has been thinned along with a 3ha section of mixed conifers planted on what was determined to be PAWS land. To extract the larch a 350 metre extraction track had to be installed. The extraction was done using horses to trackside to reduce soil compaction and then a small tractor and forwarder to roadside. The new track was widened to 10 metres to allow light and encourage species diversity.

Other projects have included new deer fenced windthrow openings on the PAWS site and a 2ha compartment of mature hybrid larch thinned using CCF principles. The owners  are moving slowly over to the Scandinavian model of a more mixed conifer/broadleaved model based on birch and aspen to replace ash for maintaining biomass production.

What the judges said: " We were extremely impressed by this example of a genuinely multipurpose woodland. One of the main drivers of management is the production of biomass for heating the adjoining guest house, although timber is also marketed.

"Short haulage distances to the chip producer and mill mean that operations are viable even with low impact horse logging, which is used throughout the wood. This minimises the damage to ground flora, while conservation measures include natural reserves and thinning to promote veteran trees and wet open habitats."

What the owners said: "For us a multipurpose woodland is not only a much more interesting and delightful place to visit or work in but at Sawrey Ground Plantation we have tried to show that it can be possible to increase biodiversity, enhance the local landscape within the Lake District National Park, maintain public access and promote forest education as well as having a productive wood that is able to meet its costs. It is also a living testament to the value of using horses for extraction on difficult sites such as ours," Gary Primrose. 

Silver: Moss Wood, near Hexham, Northumberland, owned by James Ogilvie.

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James Ogilvie collects silver with Owen Davies (judge) left and John Harris (RASE) right

James Ogilvie states his eventual aim is to make the 20ha Moss Wood an exemplar of anarchaeologically important small woodland that beautifies the landscape, improves the local biodiversity and provides a source of funds for global adventures!

In 2006 Moss Wood comprised 4% broadleaves 8% open ground and 88% conifers:today the same proportions are 20%,10% and 70% - a transformation the owner has managed in stages, felling four sub compartments totalling around 7ha.

Remnant semi-natural woodland of ancient character suggests that parts of Moss Wood would originally have comprised ancient woodland and James Ogilvie has nurtured and conserved these remnants as seed sources for native broad leaved expansion along the watercourses, following PAWS felling. The wood is also on the edge of red squirrel territory and James is working with neighbours to encourage them.

 A short walk from the popular visitor attraction of Blanchland village, Moss Wood is visited by several thousand people each year. Principal attraction is a Grade 2 listed structure - Shildon Engine House - built 1805 to house a Cornish pumping engine which kept the leadmine network from flooding.

What the judges said: "This was a fascinating wood, within which the legacy of lead mining presented both opportunities and constraints. Management of the wood itself is clearly a labour of love for the owner, with much of the work, including  tracks and culverts, carried out by hand. With an eye to the place of the wood in the landscape, there is a conscious move towards continuous cover forestry and a greater proportion of native broadleaves, while retaining a productive conifer element. Quirky internal features include a yew roundel and a ‘bicycle tree’, modelled on that at Brig o’ Turk."

What the owner said: "I am over the moon at winning this prestigious award! As an endorsement of all the work that I and my children have put in over the last decade it’s a terrific honour to receive this recognition from the RFS. I hope that my efforts will serve to demonstrate that small mixed woodlands can provide significant benefits and play a vital role in the amenity of the countryside," James Ogilvie.

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