A busy season in Gallt y Tlodion (Poor Man’s Wood)

The last month has seen a number of WTSWW workparties underway at Gallt y Tlodion nature reserve near Llandovery. We’ve reported previously the great work delivered by Tir Coed’s ‘Branching Out’ project which has created a hide, new access and four new bridges and benches.

This month the Trust’s Carmarthenshire volunteers have been working on a number of other management projects on the reserve. We’re also grateful to Coleg Elidyr who have been working hard with us to make it happen!

Poor Man's Wood Volunteers take a break L Wilberforce

Poor Man's Wood Volunteers take a break L Wilberforce

One job has been to begin coppicing some of the mature hazel that runs along the bottom of the woodland next to the floodplain, along the old lane and public right of way. The Tir Coed group have also taken on a major role in this work. Some of the hazel will be removed for use in creating coppicewood products; the remainder will be left on site in habitat piles for the benefit of wildlife. Some of the brash has been used to create some dead hedges along the boundary- an attractive woven feature in hazel that is a lot nicer to look at than the necessary sheep netting! The coppicing of the hazel will let a lot more light into the woodland floor in this area, one of the best parts of the wood for spring flowers (including bluebells). This ongoing project will be continued in the coming winters.

We’ve also cleared all the paths of their encroaching brambles, and cleared a couple of fallen trees, casualties of the high winds and brutal winter weather that we’ve suffered. We’ve also continued our ongoing work to remove beech that is regenerating prolifically in some areas beneath the oak canopy. This is part of our continuing efforts to try and maintain the dominance of oak in this characteristic Welsh woodland, where nest boxes host good numbers of the charismatic summer migrant, the pied flycatcher.

The woodland was originally given to the people of Llandovery (to this day we lease it from the town council) by Vicar Pritchard, in order that the poor could walk in and have the right to take as much dead wood for firewood as they could carry out on their backs. This right still exists, but their needs must have been great and their constitution strong- as we walk out carrying just our tools in the winter weather we always talk about how hard it must have been to gather fuel in that way. Depsite that, it is a nice feeling to know you are treading a route so well-trodden through history.

The access to the reserve (outside our property) remains atypically muddy, another consequence of the poor weather conditions this year. However we are hoping to address this and are seeking means of improving the surface. Once the spring flowers are in full show, Gallt y Tlodion, which has a circular footpath round the steep woodland, is very worthy of a wildlife walk- please do take time to visit if you can, and let us know what you think!