If you’ve been down to the woods recently, you might very well have found a group of enthusiastic nature lovers learning all about caring for a wood in a traditional manner.
The Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme has been running a free five day course at Langdon Hills Country Park to introduce people to woodland skills and traditional methods of woodland management.
Course leader Nick Stanley, a warden at Langdon Hills, kicked of the training with an introduction to different types of woodlands such as ancient, semi natural or plantation, their management, and tree identification and the variety of woodland wildlife life and flowers.
Over four more days, attendees on the course learnt about coppicing, woodland crafts such as stick making, and charcoal making. They also had sessions on the various tools needed in a woodland. The final session ended with a celebratory barbeque using charcoal made during the course.
The Land of the Fanns covers an area of 185 square kilometres from east London to south west London. Contained within it are Langdon Hills, Thames Chase Community Forest and acres more woodland that needs careful management and protection. By passing on traditional skills, the Land of the Fanns is helping to create custodians of the woods for the future.
Participants on the course now have some hands-on experience and can develop relevant skills to go to get involved in woodland management. Charlie Potter who took part in the course said “Nick is a very knowledgeable and friendly guy who I’ve enjoyed listening to. It’s an amazing thing to have been offered for free – I would have gladly paid for it. This will be a big stepping stone into me getting more involved in forest management or something related”
Sharon Dejean, another participant said: “I have truly enjoyed all aspects of this course, met some lovely people and feel inspired to learn more. Nick was a great communicator and gave us a truly unique experience.”
Jackie Welbourne also had a positive experience saying: “This course was amazing and there should be funding to run much more of these So many health and wellbeing benefits from it. Everyone was as enthusiastic at the end as when the course started, more even. I’m astounded Nick managed to fit in so much in five days. A big thank you to everyone.”
Aisling Woodhead, Land of the Fanns Environment Officer said : “Traditional skills are part of our shared heritage, they connect us to nature and to our past. It has been really special to see the bond which has formed between all of the participants. This course allowed experts to pass on their knowledge of traditional skills and inspire the participants to use these skills going forward in the landscape through potential new careers and through local volunteering.”
Thames Chase Trust, who manage the Thames Chase Community Forest, is the lead partner and legacy body for the Scheme as it comes to a conclusion in 2022. Other partners are: Thames21, Essex County Council, Forestry England, Thames Estuary Partnership, Brentwood Borough Council, London Borough of Havering, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, and Thurrock Council. These partners have a shared goal of enabling local people to discover, restore and enjoy what’s special about the local landscape.
Photos taken by participants of the course.