We’ve always been lovers of traditional broadleaf woodland. Most of the conifers we encountered were in plantations, where they’d been planted to produce timber in a short time frame. Conifer plantations can seem sterile compared to a broadleaf woodland, with the floor devoid of anything other than needles and the odd wood ant colony. Often trees fall over because they have a shallow root system. Still, they can be a useful resource for our bushcraft (although we don’t have any in our ancient woodland), and make shelter building straightforward as well as firewood collection easy, but overall, we prefer broadleaf.
After a visit to Bedgebury Pinetum a few years back, and seeing conifers left to grow as they would in the wild, we changed our minds a little about them. Some of the trees were stunning and looked nothing like their cousins in a plantation, for example the western hemlock was nothing like the ones we were familiar with from plantations such as Clowes Wood. If you’re into facts and figures, conifers provide the record breakers as far as trees are concerned – the tallest, widest, heaviest, oldest trees are all species of conifer.
You can find loads of photos of our ancient broadleaf woodland, and of our courses, on our Facebook page.