Mill visit a turning point on university study tour


A mixed group of second year students from the Forestry and Woodland Ecology and Conservation Degree courses and Foundation degree students from the Forestry Foundation Degree, both from the National School of Forestry, University of Cumbria reached the halfway point on their ‘southern’ tour of the forestry industry at Whitney Sawmills in April.

The week-long tour started by visiting Maelor Nursery near Wrexham on the journey down to talk about nursery practice and tree breeding for productivity and resilience, before moving on the next day to the Forest of Dean to look at the establishment and silviculture of quality hardwoods as well as the approach to marketing, where the effects of grey squirrels on an otherwise well-established crop was a major talking-point.

Having covered the productive side of things, the group visited Woodland Heritage’s Whitney Sawmills, where manager, Dermot Doyne, introduced the students to some of the issues surrounding utilisation.

“The visit to Whitney Sawmills was a great opportunity for the students to complete the loop in terms of the lifecycle of trees used for timber. It’s really important for the Woodland Ecology and Conservation students to get a good feel for the benefits and process of growing timber; it is something they cover in little detail as part of the course, so I was very keen that this study tour would help greatly to address this”, said Lecturer, Chris Watson. “The Woodland to Workshop course held at Whitney each year is something that I’ve always wanted to experience and having been there now, I’m even more keen to attend in the future, which I hope many of our students will do too.”

Dermot Doyne said: “Part of the reason why Woodland Heritage bought Whitney Sawmills was to increase the number of aspiring foresters who could experience and learn about the role of a hardwood sawmill. This spring alone, we’ll have had visits from young people thinking about forestry as a career-path, as well as the under-graduates from the National School of Forestry, rounded off by some MSc students from Harper Adams University many of whom are practising foresters already. This growing number and variety of groups is something I’m keen to see more of and would love to hear from group organisers wanting to understand how a hardwood mill works”.

Leaving Whitney, the National School of Forestry group went to nearby Moccas Park to see the many ancient oaks on site, before travelling the next day to the Wyre Forest to look at Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland and the many conservation benefits of broadleaved woodland and coppice restoration. The final day was spent in the Mersey Forest to look at community woodlands and forestry, as well as woodland creation.

For more information on forestry degree and other courses at the National School of Forestry, search for forestry courses at, and to discuss possible visits to Whitney Sawmills, contact Dermot Doyne on 01497-831656.


Editor’s Notes

Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’. A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber. As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal. A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline. HRH The Prince of Wales has been the Patron of Woodland Heritage since 2005.

For more information on this release, please contact Guy Corbett-Marshall, Chief Executive, Woodland Heritage on 07816-384221.

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out