Dozens of young Scouts are learning about the woodland management cycle as part of a creative project taking place amid the trees on the Englefield Estate.
The latest stage of the collaborative project between the Beaver and Cub Scouts, the Estate and chainsaw wood sculptor Nick Speakman, has involved the creation of a wooden beaver sculpture and bench overlooking the Benyon Inclosure lake.
The project commenced in June when around 80 Beavers, Cubs and their families, including Burghfield’s Voyager Beavers working towards their Community Impact badges, descended upon the woodland to learn about woodland management from Englefield Estate’s forestry manager Richard Edwards.
The young adventurers came up with potential designs for the sculpture and, suitably inspired, Nick carved a bench with a Scouting theme. The sculpture and bench have been installed for all who visit to enjoy, nearby to where the Scouts saw the trees for the project being felled.
In November, the Voyagers will return to plant saplings replacing those felled, therefore continuing the ongoing sustainable woodland management cycle.
Not only has the project given the children a better understanding of sustainable woodland management for people, wildlife and the economy, but it’s left an enjoyable legacy for the community.
Richard said: “The first stage of the project involved Nick talking to the Beavers and Cubs about product design and the variety of approaches that can be taken when making a wooden bench.
“They then went away and created a number of different designs using modelling clay, which gave Nick inspiration for the final sculpture.
“The group also learnt about woodland management including why we cut down trees, what we can make out of timber and how wood is a sustainable resource.”
He added: “Nick produced a brilliant piece of usable art within the woods that fits in perfectly with its surroundings.
“This has been a fantastic way of engaging young people with woodland management including why we manage woodlands and the importance of sustainable woodland management.
“It is also teaching them about the wide range of benefits that woodlands provide and the fantastic things that can be made from timber.”
So impressed were the Berkshire Scouts with the project, that they pledged a grant of £200 for the project.
The unveiling of the bench took place during a Beaver Hike event, which saw the Voyager Beavers joined by members of the Pathfinder Beaver colony for a walk around the woods, earning them a Hike Badge.
Voyager Beaver leader, Helen Townsend, added: “Not only has this project given the Beavers a better understanding of sustainable woodland management for people, wildlife and the economy, but it’s helped leave a legacy for the community to enjoy.
“We are very grateful to the Estate, and Nick, for all the support they’ve given us, and the Beaver bench is already being found and discussed on local social media.”
Nick, a former physical training instructor for the Army, added: “The youngsters really enjoyed themselves and, as an artist, it is always inspiring to work with people and hear their ideas.”