Our ‘Wood Group’ don’t cut trees down, because we dislike them; but to encourage new growth. Then, we make the best use we can, of whatever resources we have; woodland, wood, and ourselves.

At Penstave Copse, trees closely planted about twenty years ago, catch most of the light and moisture, so the ground beneath is bare of vegetation.

Sparse vegetation under trees

Felling, to let in light, encourages flowering plants, which are in turn, good for insects, and birds.

Ash re-growth

We work with hand-tools as a rule, which is slow, but satisfying. It’s also quiet, instead of having the thrum of chainsaws. Dividing into teams of two or three, we have safe working space between teams. Then each team will decide which tree to fell, and where we decide it should fall. We clear away any debris which might be a tripping hazard, then make a ‘bird’s mouth’ or ‘gob’ cut on the side towards which the tree is to fall. That might be done by axe, or by sawing. Then cutting from the other side, and a little above widest part of the gob-cut, we saw through towards the gob-cut, watching in the final stages for both people, (who we try not to hit) and for change in the tree’s movement, telling us it’s approaching its destiny.

Falling tree and Oska retreating

Fallen tree showing the hinge intact

While leaving a little wood behind, to slowly decay, we cut each fallen tree into pieces small enough for one or two of us to lift. Then we carry each piece up the slope, to our cars/vans, and then back for storage.
Most is then processed into logs, for firewood. Which is followed by two years storage, or ‘seasoning’ to make sure it’s dry, and ready to burn. Renewable energy in solid form.
Adding value, where we can, and having fun doing it, we recently cleaved (split) some tree trunks, then split again to give us material from which wooden tool handles can be made.

Cutting to length

Using a froe to split further

All of this amounts to a good deal of work, and firewood is divided amongst active volunteers, as a thank you.


Harry Jennings