People from across south-west Shropshire have been out and about in local woods over the last four months, taking part in a joint project run by local charity, Light Foot Enterprises and the Community College, Bishop’s Castle.
During the autumn a group of 11 college students went out into local woodlands to experience the richness and diversity of the woodland environment, finding out how to conserve the landscape and how to manage and utilise woodlands sustainably. The project was part of the college’s enrichment programme.
Project coordinator, Gary Cowell, said “The students were very enthusiastic. They learnt about different ways to measure the height of trees and how important it is to get accurate measurements. They looked for signs of wildlife and found deer tracks and droppings as well as lots of evidence of squirrels. We even found some out-of-season tadpoles. The students had a fantastic time”. In other sessions, the students visited Ransfords saw mill in Bishop’s Castle and the Clun Log Company.
In January the project switched to its second phase, for adults wanting to learn about woodland management. Eleven participants have been learning the theory of woodland management as well as taking part in practical sessions at the Hurst, Clun, learning how to cut down trees, clear brash and identify trees and plants. All participants, including a forester with decades of experience, have been learning new things.
Participant Rebecca Burrell, said, “What an excellent few days of learning and meeting likeminded people. I feel so grateful for the experience”.
The course has been so successful that Lightfoot Enterprises are tempted to repeat it. Anyone interested is invited to contact Dave Thomlinson on 01588 640550 or Alison Weeks on 01588 640095. Gary Cowell who works for both Lightfoot and Knighton Tree Allotments Trust coordinated the project, which was part funded by the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Fund.