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 6th January 2022.
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.
Up to date information and guidance in the devolved administrations can be found here:
Covid-19 is an airborne virus and the risk of catching it or passing it on are higher in certain places and carrying out certain activities.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:
Further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning.
Wear face coverings if possible.
Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible.
Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other, and if working indoors make sure it is well ventilated.
Keep the number of people each person has contact with to a minimum and the amount of time they are working closely to a minimum where possible. This could also include using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible.
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:
It is even more important to follow bio-security protocols than ever. Wash all equipment and PPE, particularly gloves and boots.
Take sanitiser with you so you can sanitise your hands regularly and anything you might touch.
Sanitise anything like gate latches and locks that you handle in order to access
Wash or sanitise your hands after using any access points, eg, gates or stiles.
Don’t work in groups of more than two. If you would normally work with someone from a different household then observe safe social distancing rules at all times. Ideally, work out a timetable so you can visit the wood separately.
Avoid public transport if possible. Instead walk, run, cycle or drive to your wood, either on your own or with one other member of your household.
Do not pick up anyone on the way or travel with them.
If you meet anyone, then maintain safe social distancing protocols (stay at least two metres apart).
Don’t make anyone a cup of tea.
Don’t share tools.
If you take your dog(s) with you, ensure to keep them in sight and under genuinely close control. They could encounter someone you don’t see and become unconscious vectors of the disease.
Wash or sanitise your hands thoroughly before and after eating food, and when you get home.
Use disposable gloves wherever possible.
Read and use FISA’s guidance on safe working before considering work in your woodlands
Best practice advice could change, and we will update this guidance when we have new advice.
Small Woods are the UK organisation for woodland owners, workers, supporters, and social foresters. We stand for living, sustainable woodlands alive with wildlife, people and work. Managed and used well, small woodlands are vital to thriving local economies, wildlife, and the health and wellbeing of local communities, as well as hugely valuable in the fight against climate change.
Become a Small Woods Member
Small Woods offer members a wide range of training, events and support designed to help you to make decisions about woodland management, whether you are managing it for wood fuel, timber, wildlife or recreation, or indeed a mixture. We aim to help, whatever your motivation or stage of development.
AGM and Skills Share 2021
Following the success of last year, we are once more holding our AGM and Skills Share online. Providing easy access to an exciting range of talks, workshops and demonstrations. Including, new for this year - we are inviting members to host Sunday morning woodland walks across the country for you to book into and attend!
To find out more or book a place please follow this link.