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Text book theory was brought to life for budding foresters from Bangor University when they swapped the lecture room for harvesting sites in Welsh Assembly Government woodlands.
The second year students spent three days observing sustainable forest management in action during field visits with Forestry Commission Wales staff in Gwydr and Clocaenog forests.
The group visited four working sites where trees were being felled and were given an overview of Wales Harvesting and Marketing – FC Wales’s frontline foresters – and introduced to the Commission’s management objectives.
The students were then invited to consider the plans for each site and put forward their own solutions.
They also met Neil Muir from the Commission’s Wales Silvicultural Operations unit, which ensures the continuing cycle of forestry by replanting sites after mature trees have been removed.
The students considered crop establishment issues and saw a ground preparation machine before being asked to work through different scenarios and discuss treatments and options for the sites. This included crop protection, planting regimes, soil types and pest control.
On their last day, the students learned how FC Wales designs the forests of the future to give the public the type of woodlands they say they want, while meeting the objectives of Woodlands for Wales, the Assembly Government’s strategy for trees and woodlands.
Forest planners John Browne and Antony Griffiths explained how FC Wales balances the demands of Wales’s timber industry, which provides around 4,000 full-time jobs and is worth over £400 million a year to the Welsh economy, with other needs such as recreation and conservation.
“Forestry Commission Wales staff did a first-rate job of explaining the how, what, when and why of forest operations, from planning, through ground preparation and establishment, to thinning and final harvest,” said Dr Mark Rayment, lecturer in forestry at Bangor University’s School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography.
“Feedback from students has again confirmed our belief that field visits such as these are a hugely effective means of delivering quality education that is relevant to the UK forestry sector.”
This was the second year that Bangor University students had witnessed modern forestry in practice, and FC Wales has already been asked to arrange another event next year.
Organiser Kim Burnham of FC Wales’s Woodlands for Learning team said, “The field trips help to improve relations with Bangor University and offer the foresters of tomorrow an insight to the variety of career opportunities across a broad range of professions.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
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