Over 130 children from four schools in Andover have been getting hands-on experience of forestry management thanks to a partnership between Andover Trees United and Englefield Estate.
This ongoing work saw the children visit different woodlands in Andover in April and June, then visit the Englefield Estate this autumn to see trees in a different season and meet an ash that will be felled in February.
Becky McGugan, Andover Trees United’s Education Officer, explains,
'Our charity’s aim is to inspire a love of the natural world and to help children understand the importance of woodland spaces and sustainable forestry management by connecting them to the native trees and flowers in their local area.
There is a perception amongst many children that cutting down any trees is bad, and of course deforestation is unacceptable. However, this is very different from sustainable forestry which can provide numerous benefits to the biodiversity of the flora in a woodland, as well as providing an important natural resource.
The trees have been grown for this purpose, as a crop, they just have a much longer growing time than other crops. This is an important lesson that we want all the children to take away with them.'
Students met the ash tree, identified other types of tree growing in the area, learned how you can both calculate and estimate tree measurements, and discovered the diversity of life on the forest floor.
They will be able to compare their findings with actual measurements of the felled tree when they return in the winter. This visit has also given the students a greater emotional connection to and understanding of the tree as a living thing.
Rich Edwards, Forestry Manager for the Englefield Estate, says,
'We work hard to ensure that 3,500 acres of woodland in our care will thrive in the years ahead. Part of this work is teaching the next generation of woodland visitors, foresters and farmers about sustainable forestry management.'
In February, all 130 students will return to Englefield woodland to see the tree felled and then learn about its onward journey for building, furniture and fuel, among many other uses. There will also be an exhibition of some of the works made from the tree in the summer of 2020 as part of ‘Ash Tree Stream’, a sister project led by environmental artist James Aldridge. All artefacts made from the ash tree’s timber will form part of a major celebration in 2021/22 of the work of Andover Trees United and 10 years of community woodland creation.