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Timber Muncher revs up at Barnard Castle

[Saturday 05 August 2006]

THE Forestry Commission is offering a rare chance to see a mechanical marvel in action at the organisation's 5,000 acre Hamsterley Forest, near Barnard Castle.

We'll explain what happens to the wood and how timber production is balanced with expanding wildlife habitats

Neil Taylor - Ranger

A £250,000 timber harvester will be the star attraction as the public are invited to go behind the scenes and see how one of the region's biggest wood is being managed.

The hi-tech machine can slice through 200 trees each day and forester Mark Hebertson will provide the commentary as it gets busy with its mechanical claw, felling trees and stripping branches to precise specifications.

"The event has become really popular and turned into an unlikely tourism attraction," said ranger Neil Taylor.

"But chopping down trees is only half the story. We'll explain what happens to the wood and how timber production is balanced with expanding wildlife habitats."

Last year Hamsterley supplied 20,000 tonnes of eco-friendly timber. To replace those felled, 200,000 new trees were planted.

Tours are set to take place on 8 and 15 August, but need to be booked on 01388 488312.

Tours meet at Hamsterley Forest Visitor Centre, off the A68, at 12.30pm and cost £5 adults, £3 concessions and £12 for a family ticket (two adults and up to two children). Boots or Wellies are definitely required.

Further information about the forest and events taking place can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/hamsterleyforest

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