With a team of eight, forestry manager John Everitt manages 1,700ha of woodland on the 14,100ha Chatsworth Estate, in the picturesque Peak District region in Derbyshire.
Parkland and woodland areas also fall under his remit too, maintaining the high standards expected of the one million visitors passing through the gates each year.
Maintenance and management of woodland sees the forestry and arboricultural teams carry out a programme of sustainable cuts, producing 8,000 tonnes of timber each year. And in doing so, the team is undeniably proud of utilising 100% of all materials cut.
The lion’s share of around 5,000 tonnes are derived from thinnings, while the remaining 3,000 tonnes comes from clear-felling.
“We produce a wide range of products for local customers and saw mills, including firewood, logs, planks, fencing materials and wood chip,” he explains. “This is a fully sustainable operation, which sees woodland strategically managed – it’s just like a farm’s arable rotation, but this is done over a much longer period of time.”
Brush material and what some would class as waste products, are also put to good use, for heating. Chatsworth operates two wood chip boilers, consuming a total of 1,800–2,000 tonnes of low-value timber and wood residues, each year.
As part of the regeneration process, the team replants 90,000–100,000 trees each year, ensuring the forests and woodland areas are kept in tip-top condition for hundreds of years to come.
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve created over 100ha of new woodland, and are starting to re-introduce more native species to the estate,” says John. “These include oak, ash, hazel, sweet chestnut and birch.”
“We’ve also introduced drone technology to improve accuracy and efficiency for mapping and 3D modelling of forests and woodland,” he says. “This helps with our longterm management and regeneration schemes.”
And the Chatsworth Forestry operation is becoming equally high-tech with tractors too, thanks to local dealer B&B Tractors.
On-the-ground mechanisation has been given a boost with a Valtra N174 complete with SkyView cab, reverse drive capability and forestry-spec guarding.
It is supported by a 30-year old Valmet 665, used primarily for skidding.
“We use the Valtra mostly with a Botex XL Pro forwarding trailer, but it can also power a winch and a road brush,” he says. “The brush can be used on the front linkage, while the winch sits on the rear.”
“It’s a versatile and agile tractor that offers much more performance and productivity than the tractor it replaced,” explains John. “We’re used to reverse drive from our old Valtra T120, but the old six-cylinder was just tired, out-dated and quite bulky.”
“The new tractor is a huge leap forward, and the visibility is much better – the SkyView cab is amazing.”
With the Estate spread over a 25-mile radius, Chatsworth Forestry spends al ot of time on the road, and the hilly terrain needs plenty power when hauling timber.
“Even though we’ve downsized to a four-cylinder engine, the N174 is a really impressive performer. It’s better on fuel, and has reduced journey times by half.”