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NEWS RELEASE No: 1475611 JULY 2011

Star turn – tourists flock to see mechanical marvels

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Harvester in action in Kielder Forest

Timber tourists are proving that it really is ok to be a lumberjack as figures reveal that Kielder Water & Forest Park has hit its highest ever timber output.

Last year the Forestry Commission took people behind the scenes in the 62,000 hectare (155,000 acre) Northumberland wilderness to watch tree being felled by huge harvesting machines.

Nearly all the tours were sold out and forest chiefs are back with another series of working forest visits this summer. 

They take place on Tuesdays from 26 July to 30 August, but places are limited and booking is required on 01434 250209.

About 440,000 tonnes of timber will be produced in Kielder this year - that’s over 25% of all the timber harvested in England. The surge in production is due to the high number of trees planted after the Second World War – when two thirds of Kielder took root – which are now ripe for felling.

But have no fear – last winter nearly four million trees were planted to make good those felled, whilst broadening habitats and creating a more natural looking forest.

Neville Geddes, Planning and Environment Manager with the Forestry Commission, said:

“Timber is a crucial and renewable resource and Kielder is making a tremendous contribution to the local and national economy.   Forestry is a long term business and the art is to balance harvesting with all the other objectives we have such as conservation and recreation.”

Today's harvesting machines cost over £250,000 and are a dramatic sight in action. Computer controlled they can fell and strip 500 trees an hour to customer specifications, while machine operators sit in air-conditioned comfort.

It’s a far cry from the forest’s early days when gangs of hardy lumberjacks toiled long hours with cross saws and axes and horses provided muscle to shift wood.

But the past isn’t entirely forgotten. 

Horses are still the best way to remove timber from inaccessible areas and traditional woodsmen like Danny McNeil from Byrness and his shire Scout are still being used for special jobs which require horse sense as well as power.

Tours last from 2pm to 4pm and cost is £10 per person, including mini-bus transport to the site.

For more information go to

Note to editor

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: Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.