Habitat Piles and Spring Flowers
Coed Garnllwyd in the Vale of Glamorgan is a 13ha nature reserve consisting of ancient broadleaved woodland and a meadow, situated less than 1km northeast of Llancarfan. It is underlain with limestone and contains species typical of calcareous woods such as Herb Paris and Early Purple Orchids as well as Bluebells, Wood Anemones and other characteristic woodland species.The woodland is mixed Ash with neglected Oak/Ash coppice and a varied shrub layer including Holly, Wayfaring Tree, Hazel and Crab Apple amongst others. In the autumn of 2015 a group of hardy volunteers and Trust staff reinstated coppicing management to an area of the woodland in order to open up the canopy and get more light to the woodland floor. This management will hopefully benefit the ground flora as well as invertebrates such as butterflies.
An area of 0.4ha will be coppiced in rotation every 2 years with the coppiced material being used to create dense habitat piles which will provide nesting habitat for small birds and an excellent substrate for fungi as the wood decomposes. Dead wood such as this is a valuable habitat for a range of invertebrates too who use it for shelter and food.
This spring has seen a fantastic display of Wood Anemones come up in the coppiced area (see photo below) with numerous hoverflies and bumblebees already seen taking advantage of the nectar supply. Volunteer wardens Linda & Rob Nottage have been faithfully monitoring Early Purple Orchids and Herb-Paris for many years and it will be interesting to see if these species spread in future years due to the increased light levels.Both these plants are typical of woodlands on calcareous soil and both benefit from coppicing. Herb-Paris is an unusual-looking plant whose latin name Paris quadrifolia is an indication of its features – Paris comes from the latin par that means equal (it usually has symmetrical leaves (normally 4, hence the quadrifolia) topped with 4 narrow green petals with 8 long golden yellow stamens above that). The fruit is a single black berry that then sits above the petals – quite distinctive but not always easy to spot amongst the Dog’s Mercury and other ground flora.
Next winter the focus turns to fighting back some of the scrub that has been encroaching on the meadow in recent years while over the summer we will concentrate on maintaining the paths and carrying out species monitoring including moths, butterflies and breeding birds.
A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped out in the reserve this winter – we couldn’t do it without you