Hampson Woods

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the ancient art of horse logging

We’ve recently started using the ancient art of horse logging to manage our fellside woodland in the English Lake District – up here it’s called snigging.

It’s safe to say we’ve fallen in love with this skillful, environmentally-sensitive solution to extracting timber.

Logging using horses or oxen was the primary method for extracting felled trees for more than 10,000 years, until tractors become readily available in the first half of the twentieth century. Mechanised methods have dominated over the last 75 years, presiding over a period of unimaginable and unprecedented deforestation worldwide. Not only can the use of heavy machines result in severe damage to undergrowth, thereby threatening the woodland’s ecosystem, but it often results in fossil fuel contamination, soil compaction and erosion. Sadly, the style and scale of woodland management continues to move away from selective, time consuming methods sensitive to specific landscapes, ecosystems and species, toward more lucrative methods – such as clear-cutting large areas of woodland to ease transportation and reduce costs.

However, large scale globalisation of tree farming has also resulted in a small but steady rejuvenation of small scale woodland management, and this is a movement we are proud to support. After becoming close to extinction in the 1980’s, the future is brightening and horse logging is again being recognised for its benefits to woodland regeneration.

These clips show George and Tom (the humans), and George and Charly (the horses) in action.