by Ian Bushell
As promised, a report on the chainsaw course that ran for four days from Tuesday 30th August to Friday 2nd September at Roland Heming, Fox Ridge, Motcombe. Clive Knight, Phil Riddle and myself attended.
The first day was classroom-based, covering health and safety, legislation and risk assessments, maintenance of the chainsaw and the cutting chain, pre-cutting tests and cross-cutting timber techniques. Days 2, 3 and 4 were spent in their training woodland being shown, and then practising, basic felling techniques for trees up to 200mm diameter.
The woodland is very similar to that which we have in the reserve: trees planted some 25 years ago, a mixture of Ash, Oak, Field Maple, some Willow and Silver Birch, all closely planted, some in blocks of a single species. Ash dieback was present and there was Grey Squirrel damage to many of the Oaks. All were struggling, with the Ash overtopping the Oaks and upper branches intertwined.
We were taught various felling techniques. Because of the density of the planting and the canopy, hang-ups were common and we learned several different ways to bring a tree down safely. We found dragging the trees out was really tiring. Finally we practised de-limbing and stacking; maintaining a clean working area is always important when you are working with dangerous machinery.
We all passed this LANTRA Awards Course and we should be getting our certificates of incompetence soon. It has certainly given us lots of ideas about how to improve the various copses in the reserve.