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The Challenges of Chainsaws

October 4, 2016
Terrance the chainsaw Copyright: Lucy Allen

Terrance the chainsaw. Copyright: Lucy Allen

An important element of the Wildlife Skills Traineeship is that we all grab the opportunity to train and develop a plethora of skills and qualifications that will enable us to gain employment and importantly become effective players within the conservation sector. The past few months have been filled with learning and skill development for all of the Dorset Trainees but for the DWT practical trainees (myself and Lizzie) our training kicked off over the last couple of weeks with chainsaw training hopefully leading to a Lantra and NPTC chainsaw and felling small trees qualification.

Chainsaw training is the biggest challenge I have come across in the traineeship yet and is very different to anything I have ever done before. It’s an important skill to master to enable the management and conservation of woodlands, and to open up the canopy to let light in for plants on the ground. Upon telling family and friends about my up and coming training activity I got an interesting response… Most looked at me with a nervous smile on their face and wide eyes at the thought of me in possession of such a tool. This response didn’t fill me with confidence but hey off to training I went!

Admittedly the week got off to a rocky start with a major disagreement  between myself and Terrance (Terrance is my chainsaw – brilliantly named by my predecessor) about starting up. It was safe to say we were not friends that first day.

First 'Mini' Fell Copyright: Lucy Allen

First ‘Mini’ Fell. Copyright: Lucy Allen

After a couple of days of getting used to things, learning maintenance, cutting and felling techniques time to fell was upon us! Ok so admittedly whilst everyone else picked a beast of a tree to cut I kept things a little… well little. My first fell was an old mini half stump which fell as (un)dramatically as could be expected but I was pleased all the same and happily progressed to real trees.

Lizzie was beginning to ‘drop um like hot potatoes’ as seen in this @Wildlife_Skills tweet

which shows a clip of her first solo fell. Things were also looking up for me when I felled my final tree solo resulting in my best cut to date.

Crosscut of final fell copyright: Lucy Allen

Crosscut of final fell. Copyright: Lucy Allen

All in all despite my continued disappointment that shouting ‘timber’ as a tree hits the deck is not a real thing when felling trees I think my first two weeks of chainsaw training have gone pretty well! Did I or any of my friends imagine I could be a chainsaw wielding kind of chick? – Well… no… but after the official training week and with the continued expert training from Mid-Dorset Ranger James I’m definitely going to get there!

Elsewhere in Dorset the other trainees have also been busily developing their skills as well as learning new ones. Here is what the lovely DWT community engagement trainee Hazel based at the Urban Wildlife Centre in East Dorset has been up to;

“I’ve been having a great time and learning lots out and about with various groups this week. Monday we did a litter pick with a volunteer group from Bournemouth and Poole College, Tuesday I was assisting with a Forest School session (working outdoors with children, focusing on nature based learning and play), I went with the Wednesday volunteer group to install waymarking posts along the Castleman Trailway and joined Thursday volunteer group at a new reserve for some habitat management work. As I type, it’s Friday and I’ve got a day in the office catching up on admin after my week of outdoor adventures! Phew! The highlight of my week this Fox Moth caterpillar – the largest, furriest caterpillar I have ever seen! “


Hazel and a Fox Moth Caterpillar. Copyright: Hazel Pittwood

Lucy Allen – Practical trainee, Mid Dorset

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