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Royal Forestry Midlands Division: Visit to Wakefield Lodge Estate – 24th June 2021


Having spent some 18mths having not been able to enjoy the pleasures of meeting with fellow professionals and interested parties to look at our woodlands, it was fantastic to enjoy a really fascinating and enjoyable day at the Wakefield Lodge Estate recently.  25 members and guests were generously hosted by the Richmond Watson family, and Dan Richmond Watson was able to provide a unique insight into the families goals and aspirations for the woodlands, which form such a critical part of this wonderful estate and the associated Capability Brown landscapes.

At 300ha the woodlands at Wakefield account for 30% of the estate area.  Additionally some 245ha or 85% of the woodlands are designated ancient woodlands and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and are considered to be the least altered part of the Royal Forest of Whittlewood or Crown Coppices of Whittlewood Forest.

With restrictions still in place we were a relatively small group, but as is always the case for RFS site visits there was a fantastic mix of woodland owners, foresters, agents, and contractors as well as representatives from Forest Services, Forestry England, the Deer Initiative and Small Woods Associations.

Members and guests were treated to a fantastic tour of some of the key woodlands, led by Dan and our own Senior Forestry Consultant Matthew Willetts, and had opportunities to look at and discuss matters including:-

  • Restructuring of ash dominated ASNW in the face of ash dieback;
  • Ride and open ground management;
  • Deer control and markets;
  • Protection strategies from biodegradable tubes through to natural protection;
  • Management of remnant Elm; and
  • Veteran trees.

Over lunch the group also had the opportunity to discuss options for on site charcoal in a innovative mobile kiln.  Dave Faulkner of Whittlewood Concept was able to demonstrate his retort charcoal kiln and highlight the opportunities to create high value products such as Charcoal and Biochar from low grade produce working as a critical element of an integrated management strategy.

The group also had the opportunity to visit the Woodys yard, a firewood operation run by Phil and Sarah Whatton and to discuss the estate’s wood fuel operation.

All agreed it was an excellent day and great to be out in the woods and meeting up again.

We have received numerous notes of thanks and appreciation.

Thank you very much for organising the visit to the Wakefield Lodge Estate last week.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I learnt so much.

I’m really looking forward to attending the visit to Deene Park on September 16th and am so pleased to be a member of the RFS; every woodland visit I’ve attended has been excellent.

Tess Walker

Royal Forestry Society:  For more than 135 years, the RFS has dedicated itself to sharing knowledge the art and science of woodland management so that the accumulated wisdom and experience of landowners, foresters, arborists and others is transferred from one generation to another.

They organise many similar events across the country.  The next visit planned for the Midlands Division is a visit to the Deene Estate in Northamptonshire on 16th September.

If you would like to know more please contact Cheryl Lundberg.

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the visit to Wakefield on Thursday. As a relatively new forest planner, I found it incredibly useful to hear about the management of the estate, and to talk to other participants about their own roles and experiences. I was particularly interested in the fact that it is a SSSI with lots of ash because I am writing a management plan at the moment for a (much smaller) wood which is a SSSI with lots of ash, so the parallels were very thought-provoking.

I am now looking forward to the RFS whole society meeting in a couple of weeks – these visits seem to be so much more educational than a training course!

Thanks again to you and the team.

Rachel Giles

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