Non-statutory advice to Small Woods members on visiting and working in woodlands following the updated government advice on movement restrictions, first published 24th March, last updated 25th May 2021.
Like most other individuals and organisations, Small Woods are listening carefully to the Government’s advice. We are also in contact with Government officials on the implications of the advice. What they tell us is the advice is fluid, however, we will aim to keep our media feeds up-to-date, as we become aware of new advice.
This advice has been assembled using government advice and requirements, best practice as shared by other organisations and responses to questions raised by members.
Many restrictions have now been lifted and up to date information relating to what you can and cannot do can be found here:
Social Distancing stays is now encouraged throughout the whole of the UK. The fact that this is a deadly virus has not changed and the reasons behind keeping a safe distance from people from outside your household remains essential. The purpose of staying alert is to reduce opportunities for virus transmission for your protection and that of everyone you might come into contact with. Social Distancing is therefore likely to be a long-term feature of how work is done and lives are lived. This needs to be borne in mind by anyone who is planning work and activities in woodlands.
Working in your woodland
Safe working guidance providing practical information on working and managing risk for the forestry sector has been published by FISA and can be found here.
Mitigating actions include:
Contracting the virus – it is impossible to be 100% certain that you will not come into contact with other people and the virus could be on your gate post, or even within your wood where people may have had access, whether legal or otherwise.
Staying safe in woods – Social distancing may be difficult, as many woods have access through them and along their boundaries via Rights of Way. Even practicing social distancing, given the length of time that the virus can survive on surfaces, access points are a risk. Even our neighbouring landowners may legitimately be touching gates and stiles. You also cannot guarantee against trespass.
Woodland owners and managers are used to being very self-reliant and are used to assessing risks primarily from our own point of view. Coronavirus and the restrictions that relate to it are different. We are being asked to behave in a way that reduces risk for society as a whole. We are all very good at justifying our own actions, by looking at how their implications affect ourselves. A clinician takes a view of the whole population and they would advise on the basis that we all act to reduce the incidence of transmission of this disease.
Some general practical advice to help keep everyone safe:
Best practice advice could change, and we will update this guidance when we have new advice.
Spring is sprung! Walking in the woods this morning, the spring flowers are pushing through the undergrowth, the birdsong in the trees is reaching fever pitch and the mammals large and small are on the move; attracting the attention of the kestrels and buzzards overhead. This is such a magical time of year and never fails to inspire and fill the mind with thoughts and plans for the year ahead.
We are getting this year off to a great start with two events this month that should prove to be very interesting. On 16-17 March we are hosting two Forestry Commission sponsored “Woodland into Management” events at the Green Wood Centre. The event will showcase some of the many ways that small woodland managers and owners can use some of the smaller-scale equipment available to them to improve woodland management in a sensitive, sustainable and cost effective way.
We are very much looking forward to the event as it provides us with an opportunity to look at the lessons coming from the SIMWOOD project, where we are again collaborating with the Forestry Commission, along with another 27 woodland management organisations from across Europe. Our principle in both initiatives is that the “wood that is valued is the wood that stays” and we know that Small Woods members value the woods where they work for a wide range of reasons. The addition of new techniques and ideas that promote management will make the 25-30,000 hectares of British woods for which Small Woods members are responsible across the UK more likely to be managed well. To say there is clearly demand from members for these events is an understatement – the first day sold out in 3 hours and the second in an evening. We are looking forward to two vibrant days exchanging experience and ideas.