Alternative solutions to timber extraction
Leicestershire’s Groby Quarry is situated next to a 1.5 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) wet woodland comprising alder coppice, which had not been managed for over 50 years.
Landowner, Hanson UK, were keen to bring this attractive woodland back into sound management. With our proven track record of working with SSSI’s and our strong relationships with the key environmental stakeholders (Natural England and Forestry Commission), Lockhart Garratt Ltd (LGL) were well placed to provide an economic, cost effective management solution, whilst maintaining the condition of the SSSI habitat.
Following an initial site inspection and stakeholder meeting, Robin Truslove of LGL identified that rotational coppice was the best approach, to bring the important habitat back into management. The sensitivity of the site, short extraction distance and wet ground conditions meant that a machinery-based programme would not have been suitable, so the alternative approach of horse logging was suggested.
Following the introduction of machinery to the forestry industry during the middle of the 20th century, horse logging is rarely used today. However, on this occasion it was perfect for our requirements as it offered a low impact way of managing the wood.
Robin consulted with both Natural England and the Forestry Commission, who approved his 10-year management plan and felling licence application. The operational work was then contracted out to Total Tree Services Ltd. Over a period of 2 – 3 weeks a team of 2 men and 2 horses felled and extracted 35 tonnes of hardwood for use as sustainable woodfuel, which has since been sold to a local merchant to help offset the cost of the contractor.
In addition to the coppicing a programme of thinning, management of invasive species and creation of standing deadwood were undertaken for habitat conservation.
The Leicester Mercury took an interest in this story and even visited the site during the operational works. The full interview with Stuart Freeman of Total Tree Services Ltd including a video of the horses in action can be found here.