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An Otley couple are carving a niche as 'low impact' lumberjacks to help Yorkshire's woodlands thrive.
Karen and Adrian Waterhouse, who run TreeWorld, are branching out from their long-running tree surgery business to help small woodland owners care for often neglected land.
The Forestry Commission estimate that around 50% of private woodlands are undermanaged, often because of a lack of expertise or cash.
That could amount to nearly 36,000 hectares (90,000 acres) across Yorkshire and represents a lost opportunity to region.
Under-managed woods have been linked to a decline in woodland birds, say forest chiefs, whilst timber is needed to supply the expanding wood fuel market. Active management could also boost jobs in the rural economy and provide owners with an increasing return on their investment.
Using grants the couple have purchased special harvesters and other machines which cause minimal disturbance to sensitive areas, such as ancient woods or Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Traditionally horses have been used in such terrain, but machines surpass their output and also do the work of five men. Hard to reach areas can also be worked.
Karen Waterhouse said:
"We have had a lot of interest so we are staging a special demo in the Chevin, Otley, on 22 September. There will be people from national parks, country estates, farmers, and conservationists. Everyone agrees that we need to manage our woods better and we reckon there’s real potential for small firms like ours to grow by offering something different and benefiting the environment."
The White Rose Forest and Leeds City Council are backing the event.
Vince Carter from the Forestry Commission said:
"Felling trees might sound like a bad thing for wildlife and the environment, but done properly and sustainably it can be tremendous boost and deliver a wide range of benefits. We are really keen to see small businesses grow the economy by offering their services in getting our woods into better shape."
The Demonstration Day at the Chevin runs from 10am to 3pm. To find out more contact Karen Waterhouse on 0113 2842240, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor
- TreeWorld operate a Timberdown Harvester and Oxtrac Forestry Skidder/Forwarder. The firm employs five people. Currently about 80% of all he timber they fell goes for wood fuel.
- Grants are available from the Forestry Commission to help owners manage woodlands, whether to restore ancient woodland, produce timber for woodfuel or improve wildlife habitats. For more details contact 01904 382300, or visit www.forestry.gov.uk/yorkshireandthehumber
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.
Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.