Due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel courses from March to 1st August, we hope you will find an event later in the year that you can attend.

This popular course is now in its thirteenth year. You will visit a variety of woodland sites to examine their different management regimes, and consider the effect of management on woodland flora and fauna. Being able to identify existing species is critical when making management decisions, so time will be spent on identification of native trees, shrubs, woodland plants and other indicator species.

The course is mostly out of doors, in woodlands on the Orielton estate and the surrounding area, making observations, and analysing the effects of different types of management. In the evenings there will be slide talks, discussions and practical work to consolidate skills and knowledge.

This course is aimed at everyone with an interest in the ecology and history of woodland, and the techniques of practical management and conservation, whether professional or amateur. It is particularly suitable for those who want to learn more about management techniques in order to make decisions about their own areas of woodland.

Tutor: Jerry Dicker

Jerry Dicker is an Oxford graduate, a former primary head teacher and a member of the Arboricultural Association and the Small Woods Association. He worked for 20 years as a consulting arborist and maintains a strong interest in wildlife conservation, particularly the study of woodlands.  He is a warden and woodland manager of a small community woodland in his home town of Thornbury near Bristol and is a voluntary speaker for the Woodland Trust. He has led courses about trees and woodlands at Orielton for many years and also at Kindrogan Field Centre.
  • Coppice work at Orielton
  • Path repairs at Orielton
  • Large ash at Orielton
  • Tree planting at Orielton
  • Mixed age woodland at Orielton
  • Oak in flower at Orielton
  • Wild Service leaves at Orielton
  • Rosebay in a clearing at Orielton

Example Timetable


Arrival between 3.00-5.00pm.
Evening: Short (30 minutes) outing for hands-on tree identification. Hearing what other course members hope to get from the course. Outline of course, principles of woodland management for conservation.


Morning: Visit to Cockshot Wood on the Orielton Estate - non-intervention management.
Afternoon: Visit to Orielton Wood - coppice with standards. Short practical - pruning and felling.


All day: Visit to some National Trust woods on the Stackpole Estate - Scrubby Bottom, Cheriton Bottom and Caroline Grove. How do we think these woods have been managed? What different approaches could have been tried?


Morning: Visit to Stackpole Estate office and yard; this is an opportunity to speak to the Ranger about the National Trust policy and practice in managing Stackpole’s extensive woodlands.
Afternoon: Visit to Canaston Wood - Forestry Commission plantation managed for forestry (Douglas Fir, Japanese Larch, Red Oak and Beech) on an ancient woodland site (Oak, Ash, Hazel and Wild Service). Followed by a visit, via Minwear Wood, to Lawrenny Wood – remnant of ancient Atlantic oak woodland.
Evening: Evaluation of progress made. Any topics not covered so far.


Depart after breakfast. (Field excursions may be subject to alteration due to weather conditions)


A variety of evening slide talks, discussions and informative hand-outs will be provided as time and course members’ interests suggest, from among the following: classifying types of woodland, woodland flowering plants, ferns, management regimes, history of woodlands, ancient semi-natural woodland indicators, birds and butterflies, associated habitats, woodland animals.



What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

Start and Finish Times

Resident guests are requested to arrive between 3.00-5.00pm and register at Reception on arrival. A welcome talk takes place at approximately 5.30pm followed by an evening meal at 6.00pm.  Non-resident guests are asked to arrive in time for the welcome talk at 5.30pm. The course begins with an introduction after the evening meal. Breakfast will be at 8.00 am. The course will end after breakfast on departure day.

What to Bring

  • Casual warm and waterproof clothing
  • Torch
  • Lunchbox and drinks bottle / flask
  • Stout shoes or boots
  • Sunglasses, sun hat, and sun lotion
  • Small haversack or day bag
  • Notebook and pencil

(Bedding and a bath towel are provided)

Recommended Reading

There are many good books on the subject. Bring any you have on trees or woodlands. The following are good books but there’s no need to buy them yet. Copies will be available for you to browse during the course. If you want to buy a book for tree identification, these are recommended:

Tree identification

  • Alastair Fitter: Collins GEM Trees (1980) Very concise and clear with good illustrations including lots of winter buds – 200 species. For once it really is pocket-sized 12x8cm. A good starter.
  • Owen Johnson: Collins Tree Guide (2004) Comprehensive and up to date, covering 1500 species of trees.
  • Alan Mitchell: Collins POCKET Guide to the Trees of Britain and Europe (1988) Easier to use than his Field Guide - pictures and text together - 600 species. Also slightly more portable than Owen Johnson’s book).
  • Paul Sterry: Collins Complete Guide – British Trees (2007) Photographic and informative about 350 species – every British tree found outside arboretums.


  • Harmer, Kerr & Thompson:  Managing Native Broadleaved Woodland (500 pages, authoritative and exhaustive)
  • Elizabeth Agate: Woodlands, a Practical Handbook (BTCV) (How and why to manage woods for conservation – very practical and informative)
  • Chris Starr:  Woodland Management, a practical guide (190 pages; most recent easy guide)
  • Rodwell & Patterson: Creating New Native Woodlands (Forestry Comm. Bulletin 112) (explanation of different types of semi-natural woodland and how to establish similar woodlands – also an easy introduction to National Vegetation Classification in woodlands
  • Charles Watkins: Woodland Management and Conservation (1990) A thorough study with practical guidance.
  • Oliver Rackham: Woodlands (His most recent book with colour photographs)
  • Oliver Rackham: Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape (The classic history of trees, woods and hedges – 208 pages)
  • Oliver Rackham: The History of the Countryside (Another classic but even longer – 394 pages)
  • Ken Broad: Caring for Small Woods (Includes a section on management for wildlife in amongst timber and wood production, and recreation and amenity; plainly written)
  • Ron Freethy: Woodlands of Britain – a Naturalist’s Guide (a good read with lots of interesting stuff, rather than a reference book)