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24th January 2020

Andover children learn how to breathe new life into old trees

School children from Andover will get hands-on experience of forestry management by watching an ash tree being felled and then following its timber over the coming years as it is processed and crafted into a myriad of different things.

Andover Trees United and its partner schools will gather at a woodland in Ufton Nervet on the Englefield Estate near Reading on Thursday, February 13th 2020, to learn about how woodlands are managed.

The Andover school children who will watch the ash tree being felled first visited and connected to the tree as part of an outdoor learning project in 2019, ‘Meet the Trees’.

Inspired by The Sylva Foundation’s ‘One Oak’ project, Andover Trees United’s ‘One Ash’ project continues to develop learning in the natural environment by bringing attention to the plight of tree disease and, in particular, ash dieback and nurturing a greater understanding of sustainable forestry management.

Wendy Davis of Andover Trees explained: “Over the course of the last five years, it has become apparent that children who were tree planting with us were increasingly concerned at the prospect of trees being cut down, revealing a lack of understanding of the concept of ‘forestry’, a word usually associated with ‘deforestation’ when learning about rainforests at school.

“Timber is one of the most sustainable materials we have to work with and, as there are so many different industries that work with wood right here in the Test Valley, we aim to help children make that connection between the tree and the chairs they sit on, the tools they use and even the food they might eat.”

Over a year in the planning, ‘One Ash’ is supported by the Englefield Estate, who will welcome the children back to the Estate to teach them about woodlands, the habitats within them and sustainable forestry management.

Richard Edwards, Forestry Manager at the Englefield Estate, explained: “We work hard to ensure that 3,500 acres of woodland in our care will thrive in the years ahead for the benefit of current and future generations, and part of this is ensuring the next generation understand the importance of forestry management.

“All of our woodlands are managed under a long-term plan which ensures that a sustainable timber crop is harvested. The trees which are felled here provide a vital natural resource and we replace these with other trees as part of an ongoing cycle to ensure we retain the best habitats for wildlife and places for people to enjoy.”

The tree in question is to be felled before it succumbs to ash dieback, an invasive fungal disease which is decimating UK ash trees.

The disease was first identified in the UK in 2012 and, according to the Woodland Trust, “will kill up to 95% of ash trees across the UK. At a cost of billions, the effects will be staggering. It will change the landscape forever and threaten many species which rely on ash.”

Local crafters, artists and other end users of the wood will gather alongside the children to watch the felling and will take sections of the tree to use in their work.

Writer Robert Penn, whose successful book and homage to the ash tree ‘The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees’ (2015), will also be one of the guests on the day.

The children will be able to follow the journey of the tree as it is worked into new forms from furniture to tool handles to woodchip for smoking River Test trout.

A final exhibition of all the finished products along with documentation of the process will take place in Andover in 2022.

Keep up to date with the work of Andover Trees United on social media @Andover_Trees and on their website www.andovertrees.org.uk. For more information, contact volunteers@andovertrees.org.uk.