I just couldn't resist taking out a subscription to Living Woods magazine last year. It is full of articles on interesting ways of enjoying our woodland and getting full value from all the marvellous things that grow and live there that are often unseen by the uninformed.
It is definitely not for people who like their woods as single species plantations to be clearfelled by contractors every 30 or 40 years.
Its appeal is to those of us who have a more 'hands on' approach and enjoy woodland crafts, gathering wild food and a multitude of ways of learning about trees and wildlife. It is also full of information on ways of producing your own wood fuel and general ways of managing your own wood in a fully sustainable way.
The feature article in this year's January-February edition is about making your own composting toilet from materials gathered in the woods. On reading that you may laugh, but just think about the big freeze we had last month and how so many homes were without running water. In my own stable yard, and in several neighbours' houses, the toilet cistern froze and cracked when the thaw arrived.
Without going into the gory details, when this happens it is inconvenient to say the least, and heading to the bushes with a spade and a roll of loo paper is not everyone's idea of a fun activity, especially when there is snow on the ground and the temperature is -10 C.
So having a 'Treebog' available is not a bad idea and must be the ultimate in recycling and living sustainably.
Another article in the 'Wood Food' section features my old friend, the grey squirrel.
The author questions why eating squirrel is still frowned on in some circles, while pheasant, boar and rabbit are deemed acceptable. A campaign began in Britain in 2006 with the rallying motto 'Save a Red, Eat a Grey' to help save the vanishing red squirrels and promote a meat that is high in protein and low in fat.
But doing this can be risky, as the owners of a pub in Worcestershire found when they offered grey squirrel terrine on their menu.
Animal rights activists threatened to fire bomb the premises and smash up their car park unless they withdrew the offending dish. Wood Food contributors are standing firm, however, and recommend roasting greys or making them into soup or pate. Good for them. Check out www.living-woods.com or email them with wood food suggestions to livingwoods@ freshwoodpublishing.com.
Crann magazine must be one of our longest-running publications that has stuck firmly to its core values of 'planting trees and protecting woodlands'. That motto tells you all you need to know and, for 21 years, the magazine has been actively campaigning for the planting of more diverse species and the establishment of high-value, sustainably managed woodlands. Crann has been influential in the evolution of our national forestry policy and continues to work with schools and other organisations to promote an appreciation of our woods, especially our native broadleaves.
Having started life as a simple four-page newsletter more than two decades ago, the magazine has grown into its present format of a full-colour, 40-page publication, produced quarterly, which reflects the changing nature of our woods with each season.
The editor, Paddy Smith, is well known to readers of the Farming Independent as he acted as deputy editor for several years. He was formerly agricultural correspondent for RTE. Paddy has brought a professional touch to the production of Crann and this is reflected in the quality of the content and the overall look of the magazine.
The recent winter issue contains articles that feature not just woodlands in Ireland but news and interesting items on forestry from all over the world, with stunning pictures of trees, including some from their annual photographic competition. The Crann website can be accessed at www.crann.ie or email the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of the Irish Timber Growers' Association have recently received their copies of this year's Forestry & Timber Yearbook. This edition contains details of more than 200 organisations and companies in the forestry and timber industry.
It has become an essential reference for foresters, growers, contractors, nurseries and sawmillers and features articles and advice on subjects such as State support measures for forestry, woodland taxation, thinning operations and all the essential industry statistics.
Five years ago the yearbook and its directory were launched on the internet and they now appear on www.forestry.ie, www.forestryyearbook.ie and www.itga.ie. This move has proved hugely successful, with the websites registering a combined total of almost one million hits over the past year.
The online directory has undoubtedly been the main driver behind the success of these sites, as it has expanded well beyond the confines of the forestry and timber industry to include all aspects of the renewable energy sector, mapping services, research, education, etc.
You can now find anything from a forestry consultant to a local wood-fuel supplier to buyers of thinnings in the yearbook and its online directory.
This year, the yearbook team has upgraded the directory websites, www.forestryyearbook.ie and www.forestry.ie.
Copies of the yearbook (€15.60 including postage) can be ordered online or through ITGA, 17 Castle Street, Dalkey, Co Dublin. Tel: 01 235 0520 or email: email@example.com.