Managing CAT’s woodland: maximising this valuable resource for our environmental, social and economic benefit.

by Lou Smith Biology Department

Since starting in the Biology Department at CAT five months ago I have been helping manage the natural resources around site, concentrating mainly on CAT’s woodland. Part of my job so far has been looking at how we can best use the wood that we extract from on site and Coed Gwern and in what different ways we can maximise this valuable resource for our environmental, social and economic benefit.

One method I’ve explored is making items using our traditional pole lathes – a practice called green wood turning. Crafts such as this and rustic furniture making don’t require very large diameter wood and are therefore a good way of making use of medium and smaller sized material that we cut. I’ve experimented with a small range of items including rounders bats, garden dibbers and I am perfecting a design for honey spoons – quite a test of patience I’ve discovered.

The bats have been turned out of cleft ash – a tough pale wood that is perfect for things like tool handles and sport rackets or generally anything which might receive a wallop or two. I tried various woods for making the garden dibbers including birch and ash. Birch is lovely to turn on the lathe and has a pretty grain too. I’m hoping to make some dibbers out of oak soon as well. My favourite piece is the honey spoon. These are made from Sycamore which is the wood traditionally used for kitchen utensils and Welsh love spoons. They are quite fiddly to make but it’s worth it for the end result which makes me want to find a jar of honey to swizzle it in.

Slide show of images from the Coppice Products course we run at CAT