The Custody Code at Kielder Forest

This autumn will see Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland welcome The Custody Code, a new art film and installation produced by Amanda Loomes and developed as part of the Forestry Commission’s centenary celebrations.

Available to view between 18 September – 1 December 2019, the film reveals the hidden industry within the working forest, telling the individual, intimate and often surprising stories of the men and women who call the forest their office.

Kielder is the second of two forests to host The Custody Code, chosen because of the critical role that it plays in sustainable woodland management. Today, Kielder is responsible for over a third of Forestry England’s timber production with up to 50 lorry loads of timber harvested each day. This accumulates to over 450,000 cubic metres of timber from Kielder each year to supply sawmills, chipboard, pulp and wood fuel customers. All of this timber is independently certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme, which ensures that it is sustainably sourced, complies with laws and regulations, supports local economies and avoids negatively impacting the environment. In addition, 2019 has seen the creation of a new area of woodland in Kielder, one which is more resilient to a changing climate and tree disease, and is in line with the Forestry Commission’s ambition to expand and improve England’s forests.

Kevin May, Forest Management Director for North England said, ‘In Kielder Forest we harvest 600,000 cubic metres of timber each year, generating a turnover of £20m, which is a significant contribution to our local and regional economy. I am delighted to be showing The Custody Code – a film which tells the story of where this timber comes from, how it is produced and the skilled men and women involved in that journey. It is particularly poignant for it to be shown during our centenary year here in Kielder, England’s largest man-made forest, where much of it was filmed.’

The Custody Code will be shown in a specially designed wooden structure made from sustainably sourced local timber located just off one of Kielder’s forest pathways. Partially hidden between the trees, the location of the structure reflects the behind-the-scenes, unknown nature of the forestry industry, in particular its workers. As Amanda comments, ‘it is easy to lose sight of these individuals as they go about their daily business across the 900,000 hectares of land that the Forestry Commission manages’. The film will play in a continuous loop across two monitors, which will be sustainably powered by solar panels affixed to the structure’s roof. To view the film, visitors will look through a series of slots in the structure’s walls, the intimacy of the viewing method mirroring the intimacy of the stories being told.

The Custody Code will be available to view at Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland from 18 September 2019 – 1 December 2019. For further information, please visit

The Custody Code at Kielder Forest


Find out more