Tarrel Woodland is a Noble Fir conifer plantation.  It was established in the early 90's for the specific purpose of yielding foliage boughs for the festive decorative industry.  The product is a very attractive blue/green foliage which is used for Christmas Wreaths, table decorations, garlands, etc.  We acquired it as a "going concern" from the original owners; a Danish Christmas Tree company.

The woodland has been a classic example of "Industrial Agriculture" (or, in this case, Horticulture).  The trees are nearly all of one type, planted close together.  The large quantity of foliage taken out each year meant the trees were permanently under stress.  They required high inputs of fertiliser and herbicides, and were susceptible to attack from insects and disease.  In the past, upwards of 100 tonnes of foliage has been taken out each year, trashing the ground and damaging trees near the extraction routes.  Right from the start, my intention was to change this and move the woodland towards a more sustainable, organic management model.  In fact, the first thing we did was to reduce production by about two-thirds and give the trees a chance to rest.

We've had the plantation for a few years.  Before we moved here, we were managing it by "remote control", through occasional visits.  As a result, we tended to stick with the previous business model for the woodland, and inertia kicked in.  However, a visit to The Sustainability Centre in Hampshire, together with reading Ben Law's book on Sustainable Woodland Management, has focused our minds once again on the task of transforming the woodland.

Ben Law's book has given me two important insights:

1.  Although it takes time for a woodland to develop and mature (generations, in fact), there are nevertheless results to be had over a shorter timescale (10-15 years).

2.  Local, indigenous plants, shrubs and trees will establish themselves and grow with little intervention.  It's just about providing a favourable environment.

So, I've set myself a target of 15 years to get Tarrel Woodland well and truly on the path to a sustainable future, so that whoever comes after me (one of our children, or a new owner, or the local community) can enjoy the benefit of a diverse range of products from the wood while nurturing a thriving eco-system.