What's Going On?

I can't believe the endow another season is already in sight with a record number of sessions already behind us. Fortunately the weather has been with us so far, with the increased number of sessions proving ever popular with the members.

Graham has continued to carry out invaluable work in planning what we do, where we do it and how we achieve the overall objectives in the wood. Of course there remains an overriding objective to ensure we all get the logs we work so hard for, the by product being excellent quality woodland management in line with the expectations of the Woodland Trust.

Every month is busy, but the weeks since Christmas have been packed with activity. A huge amount of work carried out on ride-edge clearing, tracks cut into the woods for extraction, management of a number of difficult larger trees and a steady progression through the compartments. Thank you everyone for the continued hard work.

Lots also going on around the development of the group and membership growth. Plenty to read about in the articles below.

Don't forget to regularly check the booking system as dates are being added


Publicity and membership growth

We are always striving to grow the group in line with the strategy presented at the last AGM. A recent review of this and a subsequent meeting with the National Forest Company have ensured we are all aligned and aiming at the same objectives. A reminder of the groups Vision and Mission:-

Our Visions - "To become the voluntary workforce of choice for woodland management in the National Forest"

Our Mission - "The purpose of Heartwood Community Woodfuel Group is to increase the supply of sustainable wood fuel, promote a woodland culture enhancing local woodland habitat and provide broader opportunities for community engagement"

All very bold words, but what action are we taking to achieve these?

We continue to seek publicity for the group, not only to increase interest and membership, but to inform and educate about the reasons our woodlands need management. A recent interview with Radio Derby which too place on a very cold and frosty morning at Woodcote Woods proved to be very successful. If you would like to listen to the interview The two segments were at 1h23min and 2h22min. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06w4xct

The follow-on from the interview was a "Taster Day" at Donisthorpe on the 9th February. Sixteen new people came along to that event with many then booking onto full sessions, going through induction and becoming fully fledged woodfuellers.

BBC Radio Derby Visit to Woodcote

Finishing Touches

As part of the work we carry out in woodlands we like to leave a legacy of wildlife habitat. As per last year at Willesley we will be placing a number of bird nest boxes and bat roosting boxes around the site at Woodcote. We are planning to deploy the boxes into the woods on Saturday 2nd March, which will be created as an event on the booking system. Please come along for a couple f hours if you can spare the time to help and register on the booking system so we know how many will be coming along.

Heartwood Roles

You will hopefully be aware of the roles we have in the group. Aside from the committee roles there are important "operational" roles that ensure the group and sessions run smoothly.

At the beginning of this season we held a couple of "Leadership Appreciation" sessions to help anyone interested in leading woodland sessions. Leadership is one aspect, but there are roles within the team where we feel a little vulnerable. For example the work Graham carries out with the landowner to ensure we meet our contractual obligations along with the conditions set out in the grant work is invaluable. Currently Graham is the only person fully familiar with this.

During the close season this year we would like to explore how we address the vulnerable areas so will be looking for anyone who is interested to get involved. As with all of our roles and sessions the commitment has to align with personal lives and how much time people have, so anyone interested please drop a note to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Heartwood has always had safety at the forefront of everything we do. Our risk assessments are comprehensive and regularly reviewed, so when a question was asked about protective footwear there was a serious discussion at committee. Currently protective footwear is not mandatory, but a recommendation that suitable footwear is used is included in the session confirmation email.

As our group has evolved the activities that everyone undertakes at sessions has changed. There are people who simply want to saw down trees and others who like the relative peace and social side of "brashing". Obviously all jobs are vital to the overall end game, but not all carry the same risk.

The message from the committee is that protective footwear makes a great deal of sense and isn't expensive so we would strongly suggest you wear it. Trees are heavy, logs are heavy and there is machinery operating, so please review your activity on a personal basis and take the action you feel suits you.

This does not mean that in the future toecap boots will not be mandatory so an investment at a suitable time makes sense.

Woodland Event

Please remember that Chris Conway, Robin Brookes and Heartwood have planned aa woodland event at DWP on the 8/9 March. The idea is to give local schools and residents first hand experience of what woodland management actually is and how it is carried out, in the process developing a new access route through one of the compartments in DWP. If you are interested in supporting Heartwood and this event please let one of the committee know. An event is now live on the booking system.

Coming up

As mentioned the end of the season is in sight, so an early taster for things to come after the season completes might be useful.

As last year we will be attending the TIMBER festival. Our exact role(s) at the festival are still being discussed so more information will follow.

The Charcoal Retort has been cold for a few months now, but very shortly we will be adding sessions for charcoal burns, so keep an eye out for dates. Don't forget you can use the retort for a "private" burn if you wish, just let us know and we can share the details.

We are also looking to become part of a co-operative which initially will be based around charcoal sales. This is in conjunction with CEEP and Abell To. Again more details to follow when we know exactly how Heartwood is in involved