Over the last ten years or so we have been putting lots of work into restoring the heathland on Black Down. The work has been really successfull and has led to the reappearance of landscapes and views like this.

This has involved clearing areas of birch and pine, whilst the work is happening it can look a bit destructive, especially while the excavators are destumping and burning up the brash. Here you can see Stuart working on the hill earlier this month.

It doesn’t take long though for the heather to regrow and the wildlife to move in. Much of the tree cover is staying especially on the slopes of the hill where we actively encourage the woodland and trees, especially in areas like the beautifull beech hanger woods. There is also still a lot of woodland and tree cover on the summit of the hill, it will always be a landscape of trees, but one within which the heathland and its associated special wildlife hopefully also has chance to thrive.

The heath is now grazed by Aberdeen Angus cattle to help keep it clear of scrub and all sorts of fascinating wildlife is reappearing. This has recently been recognised by West Sussex County Council who extended what used to be a very small Site of Nature Conservation Importance designation to cover the whole of the property in recognition of all the work that has been done there.

Over the years this work has meant that Black Down has produced quite a lot of timber, this has been transported to timber mills throughout the country for various uses. Now, because of the speckled wood building we thought it would be really nice to try and use some of our own Black Down Pine in the new building.

Here I am cross cutting one of the pine trees that was felled as part of this years heathland restoration work. This tree along with a couple of others which were specially selected will provide timber for the studwork in the internal walls as well as for a number of other uses in the building. Most of the softwood we use will be Douglas Fir as it is stronger and more durable, but pine is ok for a lot of uses and its going to be really nice to see a use on the property for a timber we have produced so much of. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh cut pine.

After we had selected and cross cut the best sections of pine they were stacked using our Valtra tractor with the timber crane and set aside ready to be sawn into planks.

Scots pine also makes for a very sustainable and envirnmentally friendly christmas tree. They hold their needles really well and I rather like the look of them as well. If you live near heathland look out for a site next year selling chrismas trees, at least one site locally usually has some the right sort of size and shape to pass on.

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