The Englefield Estate is committed to helping children understand the importance of caring for our countryside and passing on our knowledge to the foresters, farmers and land managers of the future.
Over recent weeks, we have welcomed a number of groups to the Estate to give them the chance to learn first-hand who we are and what we do.
As part of their wellbeing week, 180 pupils from Silchester Primary School went for a walk in the woods where they were able to see a forestry demonstration and they learnt about which trees we grow, why we harvest them and what we can be made from the timber.
A national initiative, Wellbeing Week is the Mental Health Foundation’s initiative for schools which aims to provide young people with the tools and knowledge to help manage their mental health.
Estate staff also showed a forestry harvester in operation, cutting trees to length, and a forestry tractor picking up cut lengths of timber to show the full process of extraction and harvesting. An arborist demonstrated climbing and descending from a tree and explained how important it is to care for the older trees inside and outside of woodlands and their importance for biodiversity and conservation.
Forestry Manager Rich Edwards said: “We explained to the children how some trees are used for timber production and others we make safe so that they can mature to become veteran trees, which can support a huge range of invertebrates. We ensure that all our land is managed sustainably to allow it to continue to thrive for years to come.
“We were also keen to show the children the wide range of jobs available in woodlands and forestry too, to help inspire them. They were all so engaged and it was great to see a passion for the countryside in all of them.”
The school’s reception class teacher said: "The talk was excellent and perfectly pitched for all the children. Even the very youngest were fully engaged and they loved the demonstration by the harvester!"
30 Scouts from 1st Burghfield and Sulhamstead Scout Group, Falcon troop joined Rich Edwards one rainy June evening to prepare for their forester badge. He demonstrated how to use tools safety, how to maintain them and how to cut trees safely, before giving the youngsters a chance to try the skills for themselves.
To be successful in achieving a forester activity badge, Scouts have to demonstrate a number of skills, including identifying at least eight common types of tree using identification keys.
They also learned how natural woodland and commercial forests are managed, how to select, use and care for forestry equipment, and know the safety issues involved, and how to fell and trim out a tree.
Explorer Scouts (Vanguard unit) from Ufton Nervet have also been to Englefield woodland recently, replacing an old footbridge to make it safer and more user friendly as part of their Community Award. They also worked with Estate staff on cutting back vegetation to improve access through the woodland for the public to enjoy (pictures below).
If you are interested in bringing your school or community group to experience the Englefield Estate woodland, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.