The UK’s small woodlands (under 20 hectares in size) add up to 422,000ha of land that makes a vital contribution to biodiversity, to landscape, to people and to local wood products.

These woodlands need knowledgeable care. Some small ancient woodlands are often neglected and unmanaged, with declining habitats that are unproductive and poor (especially for ancient woodland flora species, which have declined by 34% in the last 20 years). They are over looked by many of our environmental authorities and very often by their owners.

 Why training is important:

When these woodlands are neglected and forgotten, a number of issues can arise:

a) They become overgrown, heavily shaded, full of tall spindly trees and less beneficial for wildlife,people or as productive woodlands for timber. Keep an eye out for these as you drive through the countryside – they are generally easy to pick out.

b) They can disappear, sometimes with agreement of planning authorities as part of new development, road building , for agriculture or industry, or just absorbed into domestic gardens.

c) Our increasingly urban populations become distanced from seeing woodland as a working environment, and we lose our connections with woodland culture

As well as these direct threats, there is another less obvious threat – the lack of new entrants to forestry and woodland as a career.

Woodland workers are ageing, and few young people are joining the sector*. Many small woodland owners come to the sector from other careers – a good source of fresh interest, and often giving a woodland new life. Yet helping woodlands achieve their full potential requires advice and training, which is where we can help.

Small woodlands also provide an ideal venue for training existing workers and owners, and engaging new entrants through events and short courses.



We aim to:

  • Raise knowledge of and improve skills in woodland management
  • Bring young people into the sector through social forestry and apprenticeship schemes
  • Offer subsidised training for members of Small Woods
  • Seek grants to subsidise training to non members as well.
  • Deliver a suite of accredited woodland management courses, covering many aspects of working in woodlands. 
  • Provide a free email advice service for technical issues
  • Organise walks and talks around the country using members’ woodlands and offer free advisory visits in the West Midlands
  • Run an annual conference, often in a beautiful site with a wonderful woodland, at which we encourage people to share their woodland skills with others, and provide workshops by skilled trainers
  • Train forest school leaders and social forestry group leaders
  • Support new entrants to the coppice and sustainable woodland management sector through our apprenticeships: the National Coppice Apprenticeship, offered in partnership with the Bill Hogarth Memorial Coppice Apprenticeship Trust and the Ernest Cooke Trust, and also through the government sponsored apprenticeship working with colleges around England.

*Apprenticeships Review Small Woods Association for the Forestry Commission, 2008




Upcoming courses

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Gate Hurdle Making

: 17 Aug 2024

: Park Wood, Poynings, West Sussex

Traditionally used to handle and pen livestock, gate hurdles are an attractive addition to your garden or green space. They make beautiful, natural fencing and are often used as plant supports or border edging. 


Coracle Making

: 23 Aug 2024 - 25 Aug 2024

: The Green Wood Centre

Build an Ironbridge-style coracle using simple tools and techniques to suit all levels of experience and ability.


Paddle making

: 24 Aug 2024 - 25 Aug 2024

: The Green Wood Centre

A course suitable for water enthusiast, canoeists and coraclers, you will use a single piece of cleft ash to craft a paddle suited to your needs.


Upcoming Events

15 June

The Emergency First Aid at Work + Forestry is a one-day course that covers the national Emergency First Aid at Work syllabus but goes on to cover the criteria listed by the Forestry Commission /Natural Resources Wales required for workers on their forestry sites.

The course covers severe bleeds, eye injuries, electrocution, Weils disease and ticks, and discusses other challenges for a first aider in the outdoor and forest environment. The training is hands-on and down-to-earth by a very experienced instructor who delivers the course in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Training with Expertise and Integrity

With more than 20 years experience of delivering courses and training, Small Woods courses have gained a reputation for high quality teaching and professionalism.

Most courses take place at the well-equipped Green Wood Centre in

CK hurdle Chriss picture

Gate Hurdle Making

  • Park Wood, Poynings, West Sussex
  • 17 Aug 2024
Traditionally used to handle and pen livestock, gate hurdles are an attractive addition to your garden or green space. They make beautiful, natural fencing and are often used as plant supports or border edging.  more...

DSC 5404 1

Visit to Broadleaf Wales 

  • Broadleaf Wales
  • 29 Jul 2024
Join us at Broadleaf Wales for an introduction to managing a productive broadleaf woodland under continuous cover forestry. Read More...