© Emma Goldsmith/ Small Woods Association

Woodland Management training courses

Whether you’re new to woodland management or you’d like to brush up on your skills, if you look after woods in the Low Weald and Downs then there’s a training course for you. We’re running subsidised courses on sustainable woodland management and green woodworking.

This is your chance to learn a new woodland skill, meet a range of people taking on similar challenges, and create balanced and resilient woodlands where wildlife can flourish.

Why do woodlands need management?

Our woodlands once covered a vast area of the UK. For thousands of years, they maintained their own essential balance through natural processes, traditional management techniques and wildlife activity. But this balance has been thrown out by development, shrinking woodland habitats, loss of traditional woodland skills and planting of non-native trees.

By actively managing woodlands today, we can:

  • help woods adapt to the effects of climate change
  • create thriving, resilient habitats with greater biodiversity, and lessen the impact of damage caused by pests and diseases
  • support rural economies by producing sustainable timber products and wood fuel
  • create accessible wild spaces for everyone to use for play, relaxation and wellbeing.

© Emma Goldsmith/ Small Woods Association

© Emma Goldsmith/ Small Woods Association

Why woodland management skills are needed

Active management mimics the processes that used to occur naturally in our woodlands. These include:

  • tree felling (thinning areas where trees are competing)
  • coppicing (felling trees at the base and allowing them to regrow)
  • creating open areas
  • allowing for dead wood
  • planting new trees

These techniques create a varied structure – light and shade, wet areas and dry – that support a far larger number of woodland species. This improves biodiversity and helps the woodland to flourish, becoming balanced and sustainable once again.

Who is this training for?

Our courses are for landowners, woodland workers and voluntary conservation groups looking to expand their knowledge. We also welcome apprentices, and anyone thinking about a woodland working career who’d like to learn new skills.

The cost of training is heavily subsidised in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible. However, we have a small number of apprenticeship bursaries available to young people and those interested in finding out more about changing to a woodland career. Please contact us to discuss.

Courses are open to people living and working in the Lost Woods project area, which stretches across Sussex from Storrington in the West to the fringes of Lewes in the East.

Upcoming courses

Introduction to woodland stewardship

This two-day course is for beginners who look after woodland; whether you’re an owner, manager or a conservation volunteer. It’s also a great introduction for anyone interested in woodlands.

The course will cover:

  • staying safe in woodlands
  • legal responsibilities and duty of care
  • woodland and hedgerow tree and shrub identification
  • types of woodland management
  • basic tree safety inspection
  • how to find wildlife in woodland 
  • practical woodland skills

Fee: £90

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Restoring 'Lost' ancient woodlands course

Join us on this one-day course to learn the basic skills you need to help a woodland thrive and ensure its sustainable future.

The course will cover:

• What is an ancient woodland?

• Ancient woodland indicator species

• Woodland archaeology

• Reasons to manage woodland

• Woodland condition assessment and planning

• Management methods, focusing on small interventions that get big results

• Resilience to climate change, pests and diseases

Fee: £45

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Introduction to coppicing and creating coppice products

For absolute beginners who want to learn the basics of coppicing, this two day course is an essential introduction to this fundamental skill for woodland management. After mastering the technique, on the second course day you will make a range of coppice products (stakes, binders, panels) - from hazel or sweet chestnut using traditional hand-tools.

This course will cover:

  • how to mark-out the coppice into appropriate sections
  • techniques for safely felling small diameter trees with hand-tools
  • how to best approach the coppice and lay-out the harvest ready for processing
  • how to select and ‘layer’ trees to ‘stock-up’ the copse
  • how to manage brash
  • how to dress-out and grade rods for different purposes with a saw and billhook
  • how to safely put a point on a stick
  • how to stack, tie & transport coppice bundles
  • how to split hazel and sweet chestnut
  • how to use coppiced wood for building simple structures & furniture

Fee: £80

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Emergency First Aid at Work for Forestry Operations

This is an accredited Emergency First Aid course with additional provision for those engaged in Forestry Activities. You will learn:

  • how to act safely and effectively when an accident or emergency occurs
  • how to respond to falls from height, major bleeding and chainsaw injuries, crush Injuries, suspension trauma and Lymes disease
  • the treatment and priorities of care for an unconscious patient
  • the recognition and treatment of a person in seizure
  • the recognition of cardiac arrest and delivery of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • the ability to recognise and safely treat a patient who is choking
  • the ability to safely and promptly treat a patient who is bleeding
  • the keeping of simple records following an accident at work  

Fee: £67.50

Next course date: 11th September, South of England Showground, Ardingly

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We’re busy developing our full programme of course dates and locations. For now, please get in touch to find out more or join a waiting list.

Meet your woodland skills trainer, Chris

I’m looking forward to meeting you on one of our courses – and seeing the difference you make with your new skills!

I was born into an estate forestry family, and have been involved in some form of woodland work ever since. Most of my career has been in the coppice industry, including teaching apprentices practical woodland management skills.

Sharing heritage skills is one of my passions, including teaching coppice restoration, charcoal burning, hedge-laying and coppice crafts. I have experience of the sweet chestnut coppice woodlands of Sussex and Kent. And I love to show how these traditional activities support the health of woodlands and enhance biodiversity.


What skills can we help you with?

We’re keen to hear from landowners and groups who manage woodland. What skills and training do you need to help your woodlands and their wildlife thrive?