If you go down to the woods today you’re sure to get a surprise. Or something similar! Recent works over the winter months in Pengelli have included coppicing to help maintain and enhance habitat for dormice, clearfell coups to promote new growth and add structural diversity to the woodland, flailing bramble to encourage the growth of ground flora, and improvements to footpaths and access tracks.
The latter of these projects is where we have been fortunate to receive almost £15,000 from the Welsh Government’s Ecosystem Resilience and Diversity Fund (ERDF) to install new and resurface existing vehicle tracks within the wood.
A new track and entrance point onto the reserve has been created to aid better access for larger forest machinery such as tractors, diggers and logging trailers. This also avoids the need for heavy machinery to use the main entrance which can cause issues when members of the public are present.
Some existing tracks have been resurfaced to fill in any potholes and ruts and again allow smoother access in and around the woodland. A new hard standing area within the centre of the woodland has also been created to allow storage and milling of extracted timber. This project has significantly enhanced future management of this site by allowing management access to undertake future actions that will deliver benefits for a variety of species including the management of old sessile oaks, Barbastelle bat, Dormouse, pied flycatcher, wood warbler, lesser spotted woodpecker and common lizard.
These improvements to the tracks will help facilitate future management of Pengelli which will be directed at the restoration of habitat quality and increasing the connectivity of the woodland in terms of habitat type and quality, for example by expanding area of positive management for dormice. This also enables projects listed under the reserve’s Better Woodland for Wales grant to be progressed a little easier.
Although a lot has been done with the funds available, there is still much more to do. As Pengelli is a very wet woodland and with all the rain we have had, many of its tracks and footpaths have suffered. Bridges have been washed away and some areas of resurfaced tracks are already under threat. Further funding opportunities will be sought over the year to help enable the continuation of better access within the woodland so do bear with us whilst we battle on. Keep those wellington boots at the ready!
Nathan Walton, Wildlife Trust Officer for Pembrokeshire