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Posts tagged ‘forestry’

Woodland biosecurity – a simple guide

November 11, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Brushing boots to disinfect and sterilise

Biosecurity – preventing the introduction and spread of harmful organisms – is big news at long last! The arrival of Chalara fraxinea in Britain has brought this important issue to the fore. However, I found it difficult to find simple guidance on the steps we should take when visiting or working in woodlands, or with individual trees in our trees and cities. Many of the record number of readers of this blog over the last week have found it after using searches such as:

“what should I do if I find Chalara fraxinea?”
“how do I clean my boots?”

While we wait for more detailed specific advice to come from scientists and Government officials in relation to Chalara fraxinea it would be prudent to follow the protocols developed to minimise the spread of another pathogen; Phytophthora. So my first recommendation is to visit the Forestry Commission’s webpage on Biosecurity Measures, which includes the advice currently given to all Forestry Commission staff for their routine visits to woodlands in a handy pdf guide.

I have put together the following simple guide on woodland biosecurity.

Biosecurity behaviour

Brushing boots to disinfect and sterilise

Brushing boots to disinfect and sterilise

  • Clean your footwear after visiting a woodland. Wear Wellington boots, as these are easier to clean thoroughly. To do this effectively you must remove first all soil and leaf litter from your soles. You will need water and a stiff hand brush.
  • If you have been to a high risk site apply a detergent to sterilise them, although it is good practice after all visits.
  • Sterilise your tools. Be careful that the chemicals you use do not harm trees (or other wildlife). Read more about sterilising forestry and woodland tools.
  • If you drive into a woodland, even on a road, wash your tyres to remove soil and leaf litter.

Biosecurity personal kit

Spraying boots to sterilise with Propeller disinfectant

Spraying boots to sterilise with Propeller disinfectant, after they have been brushed to remove soil

The most common question I’m asked is what chemical should I use to sterilise or disinfect. The one recommended, or at least adopted, by the Forestry Commission currently is Propellar™. This is available only directly from one supplier (see below) and must be ordered wholesale in 12×1ltr containers as a minimum order. I was amazed when I searched the websites of two of the major forestry and arboricultural supply companies that neither had any disinfection chemicals listed. This is really shocking! Try it yourself. Go to and enter a search string that allows you to search within a certain website (you will need to know the url of the forestry/arb supplier): try “ disinfectant sterilise” [replace the url with the supplier’s]. I’d be happy to be proven wrong but I’ve not found one yet that came up with any goods.

  • Propellar spray to sterilise forestry equipment

    Propellar spray to sterilise forestry equipment

    Propellar™ – chemical to sterilise footwear and equipment (always read the Health & Safety label). The supplier for the disinfectant Propellar™ is:

    Evans Chemical Supplies,
    18B Barncoose Industrial Estate
    TR15 3RX.
    Tel. 01209 213643
    Email: Evans Chemicals

  • handbrush – to remove soil from boots
  • disposable gloves – protection from chemicals used
  • safety goggles – protection from chemicals used
  • water container (e.g. 5L for personal/15L for groups) – to carry water in vehicle for cleaning after visit
  • airtight storage container – to hold brush and chemicals
  • soap and towels – to wash hands
  • bags – to dispose of material
  • storage box – to hold all biosecurity items together

If you have advice born from experience or other comments then I would be pleased to hear from you. Use the Comment box then you can share your experiences with other readers.

Finally, this advice can be followed by woodland owners, arboriculturists, foresters and anyone who accesses woodland regularly. Whether it is practicable or feasible for the average member of the public to adopt these measures is doubtful. Nonetheless, we can lead by example and on high risk sites or those with special high value (e.g. ancient trees or important habitats) particularly, it may be possible to erect signage or equipment to encourage visitors to undertake simple biosecurity measures.

Gabriel Hemery

Further Information

Deep in close-to-nature forestry

October 4, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

The New Sylva

Earlier this week the authors visited Stourhead (Western) Estate in Wiltshire to study and draw a treescape in one of Britain’s most progressively-managed woodlands.

Thanks to the support of owner Nick Hoare, and his forestry consultant David Pengelly of Canopy Land Use, the authors were allowed full access to some of the areas of the large wooded estate where close-to-nature forestry is practiced.

It was stunning to see 100-year-old Douglas fir towering over multitudes of other broadleaved and conifer species of all sizes. Rain showers provided a challenge for Sarah but the raising of a tarpaulin allowed her to continue to work even as the drizzle turned to a downpour.

Our thanks to Nick Hoare and David Pengelly.

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Trees are in our blood

July 4, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests member Jonathon Porritt, explains why he thinks it is that we love our forests and trees so much we are willing to fight to protect them. Watch the film.

Our Forests responds to IPF report

July 4, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests has issued a short response to the Independent Panel on Forestry’s report issued earlier today.

Robin Maynard, coordinator, Our Forests said,

“The Panel’s report offers reassurance on many, but not all, of the concerns of Our Forests and the many grassroots campaigners and forest community groups who stood up for their patch of our public woods and forests – forcing the Government to halt its disposal plans.
It is particularly welcome to see our number one demand endorsed by the Panel – namely, full and lasting protection for our public woods and forests – in their proposal that the Public Forest Estate be held in trust for the nation under a new public ‘Charter’. Yet despite making several references and citing strong evidence as to the tremendous ‘value for money’ of the Public Forest Estate in delivering public goods and services, some worrying language has slipped in – bearing the hallmark of the free-market ideologues in the Cabinet Office and Treasury.”

The response reviews in outline how the recommendations of the panel may meet the six demands put to Government by Our Forests.

Our Forests view on independent panel on forestry reportRead the statement from Our Forests

Independent Panel on Forestry report published

IPF final report July 2012
IPF final report July 2012

Download the full IPF final report July 2012

The much heralded report by the Independent Panel on Forestry on the future of forestry in England was released this morning. It is anticipated that the Government will take until January 2013 to consider the Panel’s recommendations and that the suspension on sales of public forests will be extended until it publishes its response. Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, will be issuing a written statement later this morning.

Here’s a quick summary of the central messages:

A woodland culture for the 21st century

  • Urge society as a whole to value woodlands for the full range of benefits they bring. We call on Government to pioneer a new approach to valuing and rewarding the management, improvement and expansion of the woodland ecosystems for all the benefits they provide to people, nature and the green economy.
  • Government and other woodland owners to give as many people as possible ready access to trees and woodlands for health and well-being benefits – this means planting more trees and woodlands closer to people and incentivising more access to existing woodlands.
  • Ensure that land-use creates a coherent and resilient ecological network at a landscape scale, by integrating policy and delivery mechanisms for woods, trees and forests in line with the principles in the  “Making Space for Nature” report, published by the Lawton Review.
  • Urge Government, woodland owners and businesses to seize the opportunity provided by woodlands to grow our green economy, by strengthening the supply chain, and promoting the use of wood more widely across our society and economy. These and other actions should be set out in a Wood Industry Action Plan

Making the vision a reality – the role of our national forestry organisations

  • Propose that the public forest estate should remain in public ownership, and be defined in statute as land held in trust for the nation. A Charter should be created for the English public forest estate, to be renewed every ten years. The Charter should specify the public benefit mission and statutory duties, and should be delivered through a group of Guardians, or Trustees, who will be accountable to Parliament.  The Guardians will oversee the new public forest management organisation evolved from Forest Enterprise England urge Government to ensure that the new organisational landscape makes specific provision  for international and cross-border arrangements, working closely with the devolved Parliaments on sustainable multi-benefit forestry implementation, research and in the international arena.

In the Introduction to the report the chair of the panel Bishop James Jones wrote some of the most eloquent words about our forests and woods that I have read in a long while:

Our forests and woods are nature’s playground for the adventurous, museum for the curious, hospital for the stressed, cathedral for the spiritual, and a livelihood for the entrepreneur. They are a microcosm of the cycle of life in which each and every part is dependent on the other; forests and woods are the benefactor of all, purifying the air that we breathe and distilling the water of life. In short, trees are for life.

Bishop James Jones, Chair, Independent Panel on Forestry. July 4th 2012

The ginger group Our Forests will be releasing a statement later today.

Gabriel Hemery

Other resources related to the IPF Report

Our Forests campaign posters

June 29, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

For everyone for ever - download poster

Our Forests has produced a series of posters free for anyone to use in publicising the issues critical in securing the people’s vision for the future of woods and forests in England.

The posters reiterate and emphasize our six simple demands for Government:

  1. Our woods & forests protected forever!
  2. National support for a national resource
  3. No sales until public woods safe
  4. Stop chopping the Forestry Commission
  5. Public Forest Estate – Double it!
  6. Good management for all woods

Read more about Our Forests

Gabriel Hemery

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