Woodland resilience in the shadow of Storm Arwen

Event, held at Gilling West Village Hall on 17 January overview - chaired by Forestry Commission Chair, Sir William Worsley

More than 80 farmers, landowners and forestry sector experts gathered at Gilling West Village Hall for a ‘Where to with woodlands?’ event (17 January) which was chaired by Forestry Commission Chair Sir William Worsley.

Where to with Woodlands?

Even though the event was aimed at farmers and landowners in Yorkshire and the North East, delegates came as far afield as Cumbria and Lancashire. Forestry experts shared their advice on creating new, and managing existing woodlands.

A funders’ sprint show-cased the offerings of various forestry-support organisations across the region which included the Woodland Trust, White Rose Forest, Great Northumberland Forest, North East Community Forest, Durham Woodland Revival and Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Storm Arwen and future resilience

The event also zoomed in on resilience within the forestry sector following the devastation caused by Storm Arwen, and subsequent storms. After a case study on Storm Arwen’s impact by landowner James Cookson from Meldon Estate, the Forestry Commission’s Richard Pow, Partnership and Expertise Manager, set out the lessons learnt since then, and their current thinking in dealing with storms damage to woodlands.

Key points included:

  • Working with Scottish Forestry and others in refreshing windblow action plans in light of the Storm Arwen experience.
  • Discussing the support needed following significant weather events
  • Reflecting on the difficulties that can arise in marketing large volumes of uncertified timber and what this could mean for owners and certification processes.
  • Reflecting on the vulnerability of rural communities reliant on overhead power transmission through areas of high tree cover.
  • Exploring the application of innovations in satellite technology, and other forms or remote sensing, to improve estimates of windblow.

Forestry Commission Chair, Sir William Worsley, who chaired the event, said:

“Farmers and Landowners are well placed to create and manage woods and this conference highlighted the excellent support and funding available to create new woods. I highlighted the fact that English forestry only produces 6% of what we consume in England, so there is a pressing need to strengthen timber security across the country. The Forestry Commission learnt a great deal from Storm Arwen to help the forestry sector become more resilient.”

CLA Director North, Lucinda Douglas, said: “The event brought together sector experts with landowners and farmers, highlighting support, opportunities and funding for those wanting to create, as well as, improve the management of existing woodlands.”

“Speakers reflected on planting the right trees in the right place, and how this can also benefit agriculture, in addition to sequestering carbon, enhancing biodiversity, growing domestic wood sufficiency, and public amenity to name just a few.”

‘Where to with woodlands?’ event was hosted by the CLA (Country Land and Business Association) and supported by the Forestry Commission.

Key contact:

Henk Geertsema
Henk Geertsema Acting Regional Director, CLA North