Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Britain's new forest villages

Forestry Commission, United Kingdom

A remarkable recent development in the forestry program of Great Britain has been the creation of villages to house forest workers. This is an integral part of the Forestry Commission's scheme to restore and increase the country's resources of growing timber, which involves, in addition to the care of privately-owned woodlands, the formation over a period of about fifty years, of some 3 million acres (about 1.2 million hectares) of new State forests. Great Britain, with an average population density of 550 people per square mile (212 per square kilometer) would appear to offer little scope for new settlements. But this population is very unevenly distributed, and much of the land available for new afforestation is situated in sparsely-peopled upland regions, particularly in Scotland, Wales, and the northern counties of England. Many of the 413 forests which the Commission has established since 1919 are situated so far from any existing town or village that their labor supply presents a problem. Although, in many cases, the provision of a few houses in or near an existing center may be all that is required, there are several forest areas so remotely placed that they need all the amenities of a fully developed community. Here the forestry department must plan, and to some extent provide, shops, schools, churches, inns, and meeting halls, as well as dwelling-houses. This work must, of course, be done in co-operation with other central and local government authorities which are concerned with particular aspects of public welfare, such as education; but the forestry department, which alone needs the new labor force, remains the body primarly concerned. It must enlist the services of expert town planners, architects, engineers, and builders, and devote attention to matters far removed from silviculture and the management of woodlands. But all this is worth while, and indeed essential, for without a satisfactory and settled labor force, there can be no development of the new forests.

The need for new villages

Few forest workers in Britain have sufficient resources to build or purchase their own houses; most of them are tenants, paying a weekly rent. The typical rural house or cottage, built of stone or brick, is expensive to erect, though very durable. Sound construction is essential, owing to the variable British climate, while the standard of accommodation required at the present day is a high one. On private forestry estates, it is usual for the landowner to provide cottages for some or all of his workmen, and a similar policy has been followed by the Forestry Commission since it began operations in 1919. When land is acquired for afforestation, some cottages are often taken over with it, and others may be built later as the need arises. Up till the outbreak of World War II, many new cottages were so planned that they had a small area of agricultural land attached to them, forming a unit known as a Forest Workers Holding; this enabled the tenant to divide his time, on an agreed basis, between work in the woods and work on his own land. These measures were adequate during the early years of State forest development, when only a small nucleus of men was needed to plant and tend each forest. But expanding programs of afforestation, new methods of fire protection, and above all, the greatly increased volume of utilization work that results as soon as the young woods reach the thinning stage, have made it essential, in most of the larger forests, to concentrate the building of new houses in villages or small community groups.

Brief mention must be made of two alternative methods of providing labor at new forests. Both are still employed to some extent as temporary expedients, but neither can meet the long-term need. One is the provision of hostels, in which the workers, who are usually young unmarried men, five. Since buildings and domestic staff must be provided, this method does not prove much cheaper, in terms of current expenditure for each actively-employed man, than the village. Its greatest drawback, however, is that it does not attract a stable labor force; men are easily recruited but, having no permanent home, leave just as readily; thus a hostel cannot be relied on to provide a permanent body of skilled and experienced workmen. The second alternative is to transport men from the nearest town. Here again the cost of transport, and the time lost in traveling, result in the net cost of providing labor being little less than that of housing the men nearer the woods. As with the hostel, there is no certainty that a permanent labor force can be built up, for the town-dwellers are favorably placed for taking up other employment. Worst of all, from the viewpoint of the local forester, is the fact that they cannot readily be assembled to fight a forest fire, or to meet any similar emergency. The first cost of a forest village may be high compared with such expedients, but it represents a permanent investment in the forest estate as a whole.

Financing villages and their social services

The new villages are being built at a time when many difficulties, attributable mainly to World War II, have to be overcome. Shortages of building materials, especially of timber, must be faced, and there is also a lack in some districts of skilled craftsmen. Building costs are high, and most house-building has to be subsidies by the Government; but the new forest villages, being constructed by a State department, do not receive such subsidies. Their cost is met from funds supplied to the Forestry Commission for the general program of forest development. The rents paid by forest workers are set at moderate figures, similar to those fixed by local authorities for subsidized houses. Allowing for the usual periodical repairs, these are about sufficient to meet the depreciation of the capital value of each house, but are not enough to give any substantial return on the capital invested. The value of the scheme is measured in terms of adequate and expert labor, and efficient fire protection. It is, of course, inherent in this state of affairs that all houses intended for workers must be occupied by men actually employed in the State forests, and all dwellings are let on this understanding.

Besides his rent, each house tenant must pay a local rate charge, which goes to meet the expenses of the County Council for his district, and of certain other local government authorities. The expenses of these bodies are met to some degree, however, from the funds of the central Government. The tenant of a Forestry Commission house is assessed for these rates in just the same way as any other householder, and he receives substantially the same services in return. The services that require substantial shares of the total rates are usually: the education of schoolchildren, upkeep of the main roads, public health and welfare services, the policing of the county, and the provision of fire brigades and public libraries. Although the provision of these social services is primarily the concern of the local government authorities, working in conjunction with central government departments, the Forestry Commission can often assist, especially in the initial stages of establishing a forest village; in particular, by setting aside sites for schools and similar public buildings, it can give material help at little cost.

Largest of the new forests of Britain will be the group on the English/Scottish Border, centered round Kielder Forest.

The new village, of which a model is seen above, is being built on a sheltered site in a bend of the North Tyne river.

Planning a forest village

The planning of a whole village, in which it is expected that a new community will grow up, calls in fact for attention to many aspects of social life that do not need so much consideration where only a few scattered houses are being built. Allied to the building of dwelling-houses come their ancillary services, such as the provision of access roads, water supply and sewage and refuse disposal. If at all possible, electric power must be supplied. The next need, in order of urgency, is usually for a village hall, to serve as a meeting place for all kinds of communal activities, and especially for entertainments such as, dances, concerts, plays, and film shows. The lack of shops seldom causes immediate hardship in these remote localities, because tradesmen's vans visit them from the nearest town, serving in effect as mobile shops. But, for day-to-day needs, shops on the spot are most desirable, and the village plans provide for the building of an appropriate number; at each village the first shop is expected to take the form of a general store, providing groceries, sweets, tobacco, stationery, a wide range of other merchandise and possibly also postal services.

Some regard may have to be paid to milk supplies, though these are usually forthcoming from farms remaining on the better agricultural land near the forest. A school must be built at an early date, as otherwise the children are likely to have a long daily journey, on foot or by motor-bus, to the nearest existing school, which may well become overcrowded. The religious needs of the people must be met, and this is complicated by the fact that, in most districts, two or three religious denominations are found, and each may require its separate church or meeting room. The village inn is a traditional feature of nearly every old-established English village, and besides such simple public houses the remote situation of some forest villages may make it desirable to build a hotel with accommodation for overnight visitors, Communications are very important, and the existing postal arrangements are likely to need expanding by the addition of posting boxes and telephone kiosks, and possibly of new post offices. Public transport to the nearest market town, either by rail or motor bus, must be arranged at suitable times, and provision may have to be made for garages for motor cars to supplement such services. Areas for recreation, playing fields for summer and winter games, and children's playgrounds, must all be fitted into the scheme. As an indication of what village planning can involve, consideration has already been given to providing sites for houses for local police constables, and other officials, to organizing banking facilities, and even to setting aside land for cemeteries!

A forestry department would be going outside its normal field of activities if it set out, itself, to provide schools or bus services or to operate public houses. The procedure is, therefore, to co-operate with the appropriate local agency, which may be a local government authority, a nationalized undertaking, a voluntary society, a religious body or a commercial firm, to ensure that such services are provided, and that the needs of the villagers are met. Otherwise, no matter how attractive the houses, or how low the rent, the community will not prosper. Therefore, adequate provision for all essential services must be made in the original plans.

Not every village calls for the complete organization of all requisite services. Sometimes the chosen site is right beside the main water or electric supply, or a bus route; but every development raises its special problems, needing their particular local answers. Besides the requirements of the inhabitants, the needs of forest management must be kept in mind. A village is clearly a suitable center for administrative offices, stores, and a fire-fighting depot; it is likely to require, either immediately or in the future, sawmills and other installations for handling forest produce. Provision for all these must be made in the plans.

Obviously the creation of such a complete community takes time, and in practice it is beat achieved in well-defined stages. Most of the village plans provide for a series of "developments". Thus, the first "development" will usually provide a small group of houses to meet the earliest need for men employed on afforestation; the second "development" may add more houses for men who undertake the first thinnings, and also the first shop and the village hall; a third "development" may bring in still more houses, another shop, a church, and an inn; ultimately sawmills may be added, with still more houses for those who work in them. This gradual expansion means that houses are not built until men are ready to move into them, and also that the capital cost of the work is spread over a long span of years. It is, of course, essential that there shall be a master-plan so that each step leads on to the next, and in practice the whole village is designed in broad outline before work on the first "development" is begun. This first stage is often the most expensive, because it includes the initial work on site clearance, road construction, water and power supplies, and sewerage. For example, a water main capable of supplying 250 houses may have to be put in, although only 50 houses are being erected immediately. But in the long run a comprehensive plan is an economy.

The actual site is seen to the left of Kielder Castle, in the center of the photograph. The photograph of the site was taken in 1948, before work on the village had commenced, and the site is there viewed in the opposite direction to that of the model.

Organizing village construction

An important feature in the planning and construction of these villages, and the general administration of the Forestry Commission's housing arrangements, is the employment, as permanent members of the Department's staff, of qualified land agents. These men, who are known as Estates Officers, work side by side with the Forest Officers, and form part of the same technical corps. Their training, however, has been in estate management, and they are fully qualified members of the appropriate professional associations. They provide the essential continuity for the schemes, and co-ordinate the work of the architects, engineers, and builders with the general program of forest management. A senior estate officer is attached to the office of each of the eleven Conservators of Forests, while one of his assistants, usually a clerk of works, supervises operations at the actual building site.

The actual planning of the village is done by a qualified architect, who is not permanently employed by the Forestry Commission, but is engaged for a specific project. He is assisted by a land surveyor and a quantity surveyor, while if extensive site works are needed, the services of a civil engineer may also be required. While the architect plans the lay-out and design of the buildings, and exercises the general oversight of their construction, the actual building is usually done by a firm of contractors, several tenders normally being obtained before the work is put in hand. Occasionally two architects, may be employed, one being responsible for the planning of the village as a whole, and the other for the detailed design and construction of the houses. These experts are paid according to a scale fixed by their professional association.

Before the new forests have grown, the villages to house the forest workers have to be started. The bare landscape at the back of Llwynygog will one day be part of the Harren Forest, North Wales.

The actual layout of the village is shown above, and the first groups of houses, already inhabited, are seen below.

No attempt has been made to standardize site plans, house designs, or even building materials. Different architects are employed for different villages, and even at the same village they are encouraged to vary the designs of the dwelling houses. In this way it is hoped to give each settlement its own individuality, and also to make the best use of the available ground. The site itself is carefully chosen and where no suitable ground is available within the forest boundary, it may be necessary to acquire land nearby.

The first proposal to construct a forest village usually comes from the Conservator of Forests for the region concerned, who can foresee the need for increased labor as a particular forest develops. If this proposal is approved by higher authority, the necessary funds are made available and the construction of the village proceeds under the guidance of the Estates staff. In the early stages of the program, assistance was obtained from other Government departments, and occasionally from local authorities engaged on similar house-building schemes, but as a rule the forestry department supervises the contracts itself.

The completion of the construction of a village or of a definite stage in its development, is usually made the occasion of a formal opening by an individual prominent in local affairs. This serves to bring the existence of the new community to the notice of the press and the public, which in turn helps to ensure sympathetic consideration should any problems - for example those of transport or education facilities arise. Tenants for the new houses are readily found, preference being given to young men already in the employment of the Forestry Commission, who wish to get married and set up a home, or to obtain better accommodation for an existing family. Quite a number of first tenants, however, are men who have left employment in the towns because they prefer to work in the forests, provided their living conditions are satisfactory. In this way the forest villages help to arrest the depopulation of rural areas, which has become a serious problem in some parts of Britain.

The Commission's housing program

Statistics of building progress have not been kept separately for houses in forest villages and for those elsewhere, but to give an idea of the magnitude of the effort, during the year ended 30th September 1951, expenditure on new buildings was nearly one million pounds sterling, 324 houses were completed, while work was in progress on a further 636. The total number of cottages acquired or built by the Forestry Commission at that date was 1,686, while there were also 1,466 Forest Workers Holdings, making a total of 3,152. It is estimated that, for every two houses, three forest workers should be forthcoming, which means that there was accommodation for some 4,700 men and boys, or roughly one-third of the Department's total labor force of 12,300. The total number of people, including dependents as well as forest workers, living in workmen's houses provided by the Forestry Commission, has not been accurately ascertained, but is probably not far short of 10,000. In addition to these houses for workers, the Department has also provided 475 houses for its supervisory foresters, The program does not envisage the housing of every forest worker in a Departmental house; many, for example, will live in houses built by local government authorities, such as the County Councils, to meet the general housing needs of their districts. But on a basis of one man to every 50 acres (20 hectares) of productive forest, it is apparent that the labor force for the ultimate State forest area of 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) will be about 60,000, requiring some 40,000 houses. If only half of these are provided by the Forestry Commission, it will still be necessary to construct some 17,000 houses during the next 45 years. Hence the program is a long-term one, needing much forward planning, and although some of the schemes to be described may appear somewhat ambitious, they are nevertheless in keeping with the scale of forest development.

Llwyn-y-Gog, a typical village

To show, by an actual example, how the work is carried out, the progress to date of a typical village may be considered. This is Llwyn-y-Gog, situated beside Hafren Forest in the County of Montgomery, in the center of Wales. "Llwyn-y-Gog" means "the wood of the cuckoo", while "Hafren" is the original Welsh name for the River Severn, which rises within the forest on the slopes of Plynlimon, a mountain 2,427 feet (740 meters) high. This forest is quite a young one, having been formed only sixteen years ago, in 1937, by the acquisition of twelve hill sheep farms. Its total area is 10,614 acres (4,250 hectares), of which about three-quarters (7,506 acres or 3,000 hectares) is available for afforestation. The remaining quarter, comprising most of the better land, is reserved for agriculture, and, since all the farms have been kept in being, though with reduced areas of land, the farmhouses cannot provide much accommodation for forest workers. At first, when tree planting was just beginning, enough labor could be found from the local cottagers, although these pastoral uplands are very thinly populated; later it became necessary to transport men each day by motor lorry from Llanidloes, the nearest market town, some nine miles, (14½ kilometers away. Except during working hours, there was no organized body of labor available at the forest to deal with forest fires. By 1951, the plantations extended to nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares); 700 acres (280 hectares) were being planted each year, 100 acres (40 hectares) of the oldest plantations already required their first thinning, and it was apparent that within a few years a very much larger annual thinning program would have to be carried out. Already over fifty men were employed, and it was obviously unsatisfactory to transport them each day from a distant town.

In 1948 the Forestry Commission, having selected a site in consultation with the Montgomeryshire County Council, engaged a prominent Welsh architect, Mr. T. Alwyn Lloyd of Cardiff, to draw up plans for a village that would ultimately comprise 80 houses, with at least one shop, a school, and a village hall. As a first "development" twenty houses have been built which, together with eight more on another site a few miles away, now provide accommodation for half of the men employed. Construction began in 1949, and the houses were first occupied in 1951. The usual accommodation in each house comprises:

On the ground foor: An entrance hall, a sitting room, a large kitchen which also serves as a living room, and a scullery with a pantry attached.

Upstairs: Three bedrooms, bathroom, separate water closet and cupboards.

Outside: Wash-house, water-closet, sheds for storing fuel and bicycles. Both hot and cold water systems are provided, and each house has about 3 acres (rather over one hectare) of garden.

Water supplies have been provided by damming a mountain stream in the forest, installing a ram and constructing a small reservoir. A modern sewage disposal plant has been built. There is a temporary electric light plant, which, it is anticipated, will be superseded by a power line of the National Grid System. The new village roads are linked to a public highway that runs nearby, and arrangements have been made with the local bus company to run services, once a week on market day, to the town of Llanidloes. School and postal facilities are available at the hamlet of Staylittle, a mile from the new village; ultimately it is proposed to establish them in the village itself. There are also chapels at Staylittle for religious services. The nearest inn is three miles away.

The first communal building to be completed at Llwyn-y-Gog is the temporary village hall, opened in October 1951. It was built by the Forestry Commission, but has been leased to local trustees, who undertake its management. Its main room measures 50 feet by 20 feet (16 by 6 meters); and it has a stage and a number of smaller rooms. Already it has been used for whist drives, theatrical and musical performances, political meetings, and as the headquarters of the local women's institute, the County library branch and the infant welfare organization of the local health authority. As the nearest alternative hall is nine miles away, in Llanidloes, the value of this meeting place to the new forest community is obvious. The other communal buildings provided so far comprise a general shop and a range of lock-up garages to house cars and motorcycles. A shelter belt of broadleaved and coniferous trees has been provided around the village. The houses were occupied as soon as they were ready; thirteen of the tenants are Welshmen, nearly all being Welsh-speaking, while the remaining seven have come from England. With their wives and children, they already make up a community of over seventy people; future extensions are likely to raise this figure to over 300.

Cottages for the forest workers have been carefully chosen to suit their surroundings in the Forestry Commission villages.

Those seen above, close to the very edge of the forest, are Swedish timber buildings. This beautiful place is Glenbranter Forest in the Argyll National Forest Park, Scotland.

Much the same pattern of development, on a greater or lesser scale, is to be seen at most of the forests where new villages have been found essential. At the Lake Vyrnwy Woodlands, in Montgomeryshire, there is an interesting joint scheme involving the Forestry Commission and the Liverpool:Corporation Waterworks Department, who jointly manage the woods around the reservoir, and also the Montgomeryshire County Council, which is responsible for education in the district. Twenty houses have been built, forming the new village of Abertridwr, near Llanwddyn, and the school is so designed that it will also serve as a village hall in the evenings, thus saving the cost of an extra building.

Different again from the houses in the other villages illustrated in these pages, these are at Santon Downham, a village in the great East Anglian forest of Thetford.

Care has been taken here to group the cottages in the traditional manner of southern England, round a village "green." Unlike the others illustrated, this village is in flat, lowland country.

The North Tyne schemes

Work on an even larger scale is being carried out in the valley of the North Tyne river, Northumberland, the northernmost county of England next to the Scottish border. Here three adjacent forests, Kielder, Wark and Redesdale, have a combined total area of 121,500 acres (49,000 hectares) or 190 square miles (490 square kilometers). Of this 48,500 acres (19,500 hectares) have already been afforested, while it is anticipated that 82,500 acres (33,500 hectares) will ultimately be under tree crops. This territory has become available for large-scale afforestation because of its unsuitability for economic agricultural use, and within its boundaries there was, at the time when it was taken over, no settlement large enough to be called a village, but only a few scattered hill farms. On a basis of one man to 50 acres actually afforested it is evident that about 1,650 active forest workers must eventually be found, so that, when their dependents are included, the total population of this new forest region will be about 5,000. So large a number is plainly too great for one village, and in fact seven villages have been planned of which three are already in course of construction. To make the best use of this exceptional opportunity for rural reconstruction, the Forestry Commission has secured the services of Dr. Thomas Sharp, one of Britain's leading consultants in town planning, who is himself a native of north-east England. Dr. Sharp has guided the project for several years, considering every detail from the choice of suitable sites and the design of buildings appropriate to their surroundings, down to the naming of the new streets. Each village has its own individual design, and each, though surrounded by the forest, has adequate open ground reserved for games and recreation. At Kielder Forest itself, a hundred houses for forest workers, scattered along the fifteen-mile stretch of the valley of the North Tyne, had already been provided - some by adaptation and some by new construction - before work on the first new villages began; but it is obviously better, both from the stand point of forest management and that of social life, to have the future houses more closely grouped.

The new Kielder Village has as its nucleus an old shooting lodge, Kielder Castle, which now serves partly as administrative offices for the forest staff, and partly as a social club. There is also a railway station and a group of sixteen forest workers houses built prior to 1939. The first postwar "development" of twenty new houses was under way in May 1952, when the new village was formally opened by the Chairman of the Commission, the late Lord Robinson of Kielder Forest and Adelaide, who took his title in part from this new forest, and in part from his Australian birthplace. Work is now actively proceding on the second "development" of thirty-eight houses, which are being sited on a stretch of flat land in a bend of the river, known as Butteryhaugh. The complete plan provides for over 250 houses, grouped around a central square, with a church, a meeting hall, an inn, a row of shops, a school and playing fields. The estimated ultimate population will be over 1,000.

At Redesdale Forest, 47 houses of the 120 comprising the new village of Byrness are nearly ready for occupation; although in the heart of the forest it borders on one of the few main roads from England into Scotland. At Wark Forest, to the south, work is proceeding on the new village of Stonehaughshields which will eventually comprise over 200 houses. Several other schemes are in progress in the northern counties of England.

Santon Downham village

At Thetford Chase Forest, on the borders of Norfolk and Suffolk, however, the increase of employment following the afforestation - and growing utilization - of 33,000 acres (13,400 hectares) of hitherto nearly barren heathland has necessitated a new village at Santon Downham, near the small manufacturing town of Brandon. Particular interest attaches to this village inasmuch as it is a revival of a very ancient one, and represents perhaps the earliest effort of the Forestry Commission at community planning. The old church at Santon Downham includes Norman stonework dating back to the eleventh century A. D.; but when the land was acquired for afforestation in 1922, little trace remained of the former settlement, and the parish formed a sporting estate, centered on the mansion house of Santon Downham Hall. When this house was demolished, six cottages attached to it became available for forest workers. In addition, the outbuildings such as stables and coach-houses were converted into dwellings, and in this way, a further sixteen houses were provided. Then a shop was opened, and the workers themselves organized a meeting hall and a sports club, with a tennis court and a bowling green.

After 1945, the increased work in the forest led to the setting up of a produce depot at Brandon, and administrative offices, an engineering depot, and a fire-fighting center at Santon Downham. Plans were therefore made for a considerable expansion of the village. The layout provides for eighty new houses to be grouped around a central village green near the old church, and also for the usual hall, shops and playing field. Between 1947 and 1949, the first forty-one houses were completed to form an attractive settlement in the heart of the pine forest. Most of the new houses are of brick, but eight are of prefabricated timber construction and were imported from Sweden, while at Brandon two cedar houses from Canada have been put up.

Forest villages in Scotland

The first forest village to be established in Scotland is that at the Forest of Ae, about nine miles north of the town of Dumfries. Here 5,500 acres of hill land have gradually been afforested, mainly with spruce, since 1927; the final extent of the plantations will be 8,000 acres. The few scattered farms and cottages provided little labor, but up to 1947 the need was met by building ten cottages, including several wooden bungalows roofed with wooden shingles. Then plans were made for the new village of Ae, which will comprise eighty houses and the usual public buildings. The work was begun the same year at a ceremony performed by the Rt. Hon. Thomas Johnston, a Forestry Commissioner and former Secretary of State for Scotland. The first group of fourteen houses was completed in 1950, and the second batch of sixteen in 1951. Designed by an Edinburgh architect, the houses conform to a traditional Scottish pattern, being high, with narrow windows, white walls and gray roofs, and are in keeping with their upland site.

Further west, but in the same Southern Uplands, a big scheme is developing at the Glen Trool National Forest Park, in Ayrshire and Kirkcudbrightshire, where there are 116,500 acres of hill land comprised in five forest units; already 14,000 acres have been planted up, while 31,000 acres have still to be afforested. There is no large town, and very few villages, in the whole region, and to carry out the initial stages of the work, men have had to be transported each day from places twenty miles away. Now a village, to be known as Minnoch after the river nearby, has been planned for Glen Trool Forest itself; it will consist of about 110 houses, of which forty are now going up. In this part of Scotland, for various reasons, two patterns of development are being followed - in some instances small communities are being added to existing towns or villages, while elsewhere completely new villages are being set up.

The Scottish Highlands, where forestry is particularly important as a means of arresting rural depopulation, have not so far necessitated the building of large forest villages. Adequate labor is often forthcoming from former crofters or fishermen who have turned to forestry as a more profitable employment. Where new building is found essential, it is often difficult to secure a site in the narrow and rugged glens, permitting of a good village layout. Consequently house-building tends to take the form of small community groups, placed near the high road within a mile or two of an existing village. A good example of this arrangement is found at Loch Ard Forest in Perthshire, where five such groups - Braeval, Balleich, Corrie, Renagour, and Kinlochard, have been constructed within a few miles of Aberfoyle, the central township. In the Argyll National Forest Park, groups of houses have been built to serve Benmore, Glenbranter and Glenfinart Forests, some being of prefabricated timber construction. These were brought over in sections from Sweden, and have proved fully satisfactory, despite the exceptionally high local rainfall, which sometimes reaches 100 inches (250 centimeters) a year. Similar schemes are going forward throughout the Highland Counties, and at some of the remoter forests they may well prove the key to the utilization of land that has long lain idle. For example, at Dalavich, on the western shore of Loch Awe in Argyll, a new group of thirty-one houses provides labor for Inverliever and Inverinan Forests in a region far removed from older settlements, at a point accessible only by water or over many miles of inferior roads, the nearest town, Oban, being thirty miles distant.

Why forest villages are built

The conception of the forest village involves the belief that the worker, and his family, must be satisfactorily housed close to the forest which will give him employment, and be provided with reasonable social amenities. Only in this way can the labor force necessary to work the forests be built up and the drift from the countryside to the towns averted. A stable and contented labor force will well repay the cost and effort involved.

Sixth commonwealth forestry conference

The Sixth Commonwealth Forestry Conference was held in Canada between 11 August and 13 September 1952. The agenda for the meetings were prepared by the Standing Committee on Commonwealth Forestry in London, after consultation with forest authorities throughout the Commonwealth. The Canadian Committee in Ottawa was under the chairmanship of D. A. Macdonald, Director, Forestry Branch, Department of Resources and Development of Canada, who also served as chairman of the conference.

The conference opened in the Senate Chamber of the Dominion Parliament, Ottawa, with a full-scale review of official statements on the forestry situation throughout the Commonwealth. Particular emphasis was laid on progress in the last five years on items regarded by the preceding conference as of particular importance. This produced much interesting statistical and technical material over a wide range of forestry subjects. Throughout the conference special emphasis was laid on forest utilization, many topics -such as sustained yield, pulp and paper developments, silvicultural practices and harvesting and manufacturing methods - being considered with particular reference to their relationships to this subject.

Total attendance at the sessions was between 90 and 100 delegates, over half of them from overseas, and including official observers from the United States and FAO.

The conference proper included tours through the provinces of Quebec and Ontario; among the highlights were visits to the Duchesnay Ranger School and the Forest School of Laval University, the Laurentide Park, Price Bros, mill at Kenogami, the Seed Plant at Angus and the Midhurst Nursery, as well as several days under canvas at Lake Opeongo, Ontario. During the On tario trip there was a very impressive and stimulating parade of organization, methods and equipment, including airplane patrol and transport now used to detect and combat forest fires in this province. Throughout the trip the delegates were indebted for many courtesies to the Provincial Department of Lands and Forests and representatives of the forest industries. The trips afforded delegates an excellent opportunity to observe forest conditions in eastern Canada and the progress being made in forest protection and management, the wealth of forest industries, and the large and growing program in both basic and applied forest research. Following the conference a special tour was arranged for overseas delegates throughout British Columbia by the Provincial Department of Lands and Forests, which afforded a similar opportunity to see forest conditions and practices in this extremely active and interesting area.

Roy Robinson, 1883-1952

Lord Robinson speaking at the Sixth Commonwealth Forestry Conference, very shortly before his death.

Lord Robinson, chairman of the United Kingdom Forestry Commissioners, whose death occurred while attending the Sixth Commonwealth Forestry Conference at Ottawa, Canada, was a man who devoted his life to the cause of forestry in Great Britain, bringing to the task silvicultural knowledge and experience of a very high order. An Australian, Lord Robinson has been described as the Commonwealth's No. 1 forester. He was educated in Australia and was later a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he obtained first class honors in Natural Science in 1908.

After serving with the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, he was appointed Technical Commissioner on the formation of the Forestry Commission in 1919 and served in that capacity until 1932, being also vice-chairman of the Commission from 1929 to 1932. In the latter year he was appointed Chairman of the Forestry Commissioners, holding, from 1945 to 1947, the additional office of Director-General of the Forestry Commission.

Largely under Lord Robinson's guidance the Forestry Commission in the United Kingdom has grown to an organization which, as the State forest authority, now manages about a million and a half acres of land and has formed to date more than a thousand square miles of new forests in Britain. The National Forest Parks were his creation, intended to provide places of beauty and popular resort, and will remain his real monument - both of which are illustrated in this issue of Unasylva Kielder and Thetford Chase, to mention only two.

It is of interest that at Inverliever, in Argyll, Scotland, there is a Sitka spruce planted 37 years ago by Roy Robinson - then a junior officer in the Department of Woods and Forests. Today it stands 102 feet high and contains 116 cubic feet of timber - and there are others in the same forest which are comparable. It is given to few in forestry to see such swift results of their efforts.

It has been announced that the Earl of Radnor has been appointed Chairman of the Forestry Commission in succession to the late Lord Robinson. Lord Radnor was appointed a Forestry Commissioner in 1942 and has been acting as Deputy Chairman of the Commission since July, 1951.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page