Orlando and the ash poles

The Park contains over 1,000 acres of woodland, from the yew growing on the slopes of the Butser National Nature Reserve to the beech plantations in Queen Elizabeth Forest. Timber of all sorts has a value and whilst this is obviously more relevant with the areas of plantation that were specifically planted with production in mind, we are always conscious to make the most of any opportunities. Particularly where there is also a wildlife benefit and the possibility of preserving traditional crafts or creating economic activity.

The Winter and early Spring are the best times for cutting, to minimise wildlife disturbance and to work with timber when the sap is down. The image shows Orlando removing the last of 120 ash poles which are to be made in to a 16ft yurt. He is a boat builder by training using related skills to create a traditional Central Asian accommodation tent. The next project will be a 35 foot version so that the family can relocate!

The ash poles are approximately 8 ft in length and 1.5 inches in diameter. They cost 50-60 pence each from the Park. This is the first time that this area has been cut, the ash having seeded naturally after the 1987 hurricane cleared the area completely. Compared to hazel which grows much quicker, and can be used after 5-7 years, ash typically takes 21-27 years to get to this stage.

Help and advice on yurt construction comes from West Country expert Paul King who has written the appropriately named ‘Yurt Builders Handbook’. More information on his web-site at www.woodlandyurts.co.uk 

For more traditional skills the Hampshire Coppice Craftsmens Group ‘supports the work of coppice, underwood and associated craftsmen in Hampshire’. Members will be present at the Buriton Chalk Pits open Day on Saturday the 28th April, and in greater numbers at the South Downs Wood Fair which takes place at the Park on the 21st/22nd July. 

Further details about the group can be found at www.hampshirecoppice.org.uk  and more information on the Wood Fair at www.woodlandcrafts.co.uk