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Wood has always been one of the world's most abundant elements and has therefore been used for centuries by humans for fuel, tools, building material and furniture. Due to the usefulness of wood, man has managed woodland to ensure that the quality and quantity of the timber required is produced.

Early man must have recognised that different tree species have different characteristics that govern how they could be best used. For example, cleft Ash is extremely durable and is still considered the best locally grown wood for tool handles.

They must also have noted that different tree species grow at different rates and respond in differing ways to a variety of management techniques. These factors and more have influenced woodland management practices for centuries and continue to do so.

For example, Hazel has been used for thatching spars since thatching began, and in order for it to be good spar material it needs to be straight, without twist and should be coppiced on a 5-8 year rotation.

Traditional woodland management and the skills for converting timber into a variety of products are still practised today.

A large proportion of the timber we produce during our woodland management activities is sold as firewood. The rest is converted into wood products, such as fencing material, furniture, wooden roof tiles and specially crafted timbers for historic buildings. At West Stow we helped create a Saxon farmhouse from riven boards.

The principal woodland crafts we use are cleaving and hewing.