Edistone, which is owned by Keith and Decia Blacker, became a forestry and timber business in 2001 when it acquired a 70 acre woodland on the slopes of a valley leading up to Lake Vrynwy in mid-Wales. This marked the start of a second career for Keith having previously worked in manufacturing and distribution around the world.
Decia, in this picture, has just finished helping to erect this log store cluster in Oxfordshire while
At first, the woodland was worked to a conventonal forestry pattern with harvested timber being sold as round logs to saw mills and paper mills. But that approach gave very little return, so Keith used his modern manufacturing experience to create a business that manufactured the trees into timber products that customers wanted. A sawmill, timber drying facility and joinery workshop were established.
Soon, the concept of containerised woodfuel delivery was born and after that the log store. The business has not looked back since. Close attention to customer service has been critical to our growth and we have found customer feedback valuable. Many of the product enhancements and improvements to ordering and delivery methods have come directly from customers' comments - for which we are very grateful.
The woodland is registered as a sustainable woodland with the Forest Stewardship Council and we are rigorously audited to ensure that we comply with the principles of sustainable forestry. That means that we look after the environment and natural habitats in the woodland, we harvest less that the forest grows each year and we are socially responsible in our neighbourhood.
When trees are harvested, all of the material is put to good use. The small branches and leaves - lop and top as it is known - are left in the forest to rot and improve fertility. The sawdust from milling is sold to local farmers for animal bedding. The slab wood left over over from milling round logs into rectangular boards is converted into boiler fuel to heat the workshop and for two charity projects in the town. The offcuts from log store manufacture are used to heat the office. After that, there is not much left.
It is a privilege to own such an atractive woodland and we have allowed MENCAP to set up an outdoor environment for the use of their local workshop. MENCAP is a UK charity that works with people with learning difficulties, their families and carers. We have set aside part of our woodland for their use; they have built a shelter which they use regularly to make kindling and furniture for sale from smaller trees that they have harvested .
We have recently eastablished a Forest School site within the woodland which has already been used of each of the nine local primary schools in our area. Forest School is an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults opportunities to develop confidence, self-esteem, independence and language and commincation skills through hands on learning epxeriences in a woodland setting.
Keith is closely involved with Tir Coed, a charity which offers educational, training and recreational opportunities in woodland settings for young people in rural Wales who need such facilities by reason of their youth, mental or physical disability, financial hardship or social circumstances.
Edistone is also a member of the Welsh Timber Forum which, together with the Wales Forest Business Partnership, promotes the development and marketing of timber products made in Wales. We are also invoived with Woodfuel Wales which promotes the efficient use of woodfuel as a clean, low carbon and sustainable energy source in Wales and the border counties of England.
The NFU Countryside magazine published an article about us in its May 2010 edition which you can download here: