This film is part of Free

The New Crop

Wartime woodland management: we can do it! Women add their labour to the work of axe and saw.

Government sponsored film 1944 19 mins


Who manages Britain's forests in wartime? With demand for timber relentless, the 'lumberjills' of the Women's Timber Corps work side by side with woodsmen. The coal mines need pit-props and the military services need materials urgently, so private woodland and state forest from Sussex Wold to Welsh hillside are felled and processed. But cropped woods must be re-sown if they are to yield again, so new conifer plantations are cultivated on the uplands.

A contemporary reviewer in the industry journal Documentary News Letter noted "something wrong somewhere" in the spruce plantations, yet felt unqualified to identify it. Today, however, we know the ecological risks of replacing native, broadleaf species with a monoculture of exotic conifers. Nevertheless, the vision of a multi-yield, managed forestry remains inspiring, presenting the last great stand of wood before the postwar advances in petrochemistry that would herald the plastic world of today. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.