I’m on a quest to understand the factors that will shape the future of Britain’s forests, making a series of short films called ‘Wood For The Trees’ with filmmaker Charlotte Le Marchant. We’ve been talking to experts who are passionately battling for a better future for our woodlands. In the last film Gabriel Hemery pointed out that while we’re all rushing to plant more trees we’re not really looking after the trees that we already have. 

We’ve learnt that almost half of the woodland in this country is unmanaged, and that unmanaged woodland does not provide the ecological, environmental and social benefits that a healthy, managed woodland can. 

With so little tree cover in this country, why are we not looking after this precious resource better? It seems that part of the answer is in the fact that woodlands, particularly in England are so fragmented. Small woodlands, defined as those under 20 hectares, make up around 40 percent of the total woodland cover in this country.

To find out more about the challenges and opportunities for our small woodlands, our producer Charlotte traveled to Dartmoor to talk to Doug King-Smith who along with his wife Claire own the Hillyfield Woodland FarmTheir work has been described by the Royal Forestry Society as a first-class case study for other owners and managers of small scale woodland.

Charlotte asked Doug to describe his experiences of bringing a small scale woodland back under management. 

Doug is an inspiration, and demonstrates that with hard work and determination it is possible to bring unhealthy woodland back into management. But his story shows that he’s had to challenge a lot of assumptions about the very nature and definition of forestry, and battle planning officials in order to be able to build the resources required to manage a working woodland. 

I’m planning to continue with this series into next year for at least a couple more, and on Sunday 8th November (technology permitting) Doug and I will be on social media for a Q&A, so please enter your questions! Comments are open at ‘Wood For The Trees’ on YouTube, on the Vastern Timber Facebook page, or you can reach my team on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to join the discussion.