This article is based on the video you can watch here.
We’ve just bought this land to create a forest!
I’m Chris and along with friends Hester and Richard we’re on a mission to create forests that are biodiverse, productive and fun to spend time in.
Yes we want to be proactive in tackling climate change. But we don’t just want to plant trees, we want to use the land effectively to help bring more benefits than just taking carbon out of the atmosphere.
That’s why we’re focusing on creating forests that can provide resources to our society, improve the biodiversity of the local environment and provide somewhere that people can enjoy spending time in. In doing so we hope to create forests that are valued and appreciated by future generations.
Our first project is in Scotland. We had an offer accepted on this piece of land in August 2020 and after 6 months have at last completed the purchase. It’s approx 32 Hectares / 80 acres or 40 football pitches in size. Most of it is fields used for sheep grazing and about a fifth is established semi natural woodland. The land also has streams, marshy area, rocky outcrops and great views.
We have a lot to learn about how to create and look after a forest and over the coming months (and years) we’ll be sharing our journey with you. We’ll be designing the layout of the forest, deciding on the types of trees we’ll be planting – how that influences the wildlife we hope to encourage and the sort of projects the timber could be used in. We’ll also be thinking about how we can make it a place that people can enjoy spending time in. Question is can we successfully balance all these aspects together?
So let’s look a bit more about what we want the forest to achieve: that is being biodiverse, productive and a fun place to spend time.
Biodiversity means having a large amount of different types animals, plants and fungi. They work together and all bring different benefits to the forest. This also means the forest will be more resilient to future disease, pests and climate change which should sustain a healthy forest into the future.
What’s the first thing you think about when I say a productive forest? Timber? This is super important to us. We need it for building homes, creating furniture and for many many other purposes. So we’ll be learning about which trees are best for producing wood for all the different purposes people need it for, then selecting the those trees which are best suited to our land plus how they work together to create a biodiverse forest. Of course timber isn’t the only way a forest is productive, for example it can produce food and other woodland products which we’ll discuss in a future article.
For us it’s essential that the forest we’re creating is a fun place for people to come and spend time in as well a learning about the forest. And not just because that’s what we want to do when we come! Because we want to demonstrate that society should be creating more forests that are more biodiverse and productive, and if people enjoy spending time in the forest and learning about it, then we believe that this will lead to more of these types of forests being created.
How do we hope to achieve the balance between the different elements? We’re using a forestry technique called Continuous Cover Forestry also known as Closer to Nature Forestry. In simple terms this creates a mix of different ages of trees by by cutting down only a small percentage of the trees at a time for timber, leaving most of the other trees to continue growing and supporting the wildlife that lives in the forest.