Hedgerows and Wild Service Trees in Carmarthenshire

Frequent travellers along the A476, Crosshands to Llandeilo road could not have failed to notice the large amount of laid hedge there is now at Carmel National Nature Reserve.

We have employed a local contractor to lay over 1 Km of mature roadside hedge. The contractor has employed 2 different styles to hedge laying that reflects the diversity of this traditional skill.

Carmel hedge laying the Breconshire Style

Carmel hedge laying the Breconshire Style

Hedge laying is a method of stock proofing a field that has been used for centuries. Unfortunately with the rise of post and wire stock fencing, and the regular use of flails to cut back hedges, modern hedges are often becoming full of gaps with rot setting into many of the trees.

By laying the living stems of the hedge you encourage more vigorous growth from the base. This helps rejuvenate a hedge, prolonging its life and promoting a denser stand. This has wildlife benefits by creating a wildlife corridor full of feeding and nesting potential.

Volunteers have also created a coppiced area at Carmel. We have cut down some of the mature hazel to open up a section of the woods. This will vary the age structure of the hazel within the reserve, and benefit woodland flora by allowing more light under the canopy. Help was gratefully received from our regular work party, countryside students from Gelli Ayr College, and outdoor pursuit’s students from Trinity College.

Volunteers have also spent several days at Poor Man’s Wood/Gallt y Tlodion completing fence repairs. This will keep sheep from surrounding fields excluded from the woodland; benefits of this include aiding natural regeneration of sessile oak.

Volunteers have also cleared bramble from the base of our 2 Wild Service trees. The trees are rare with only a handful in Carmarthenshire. Wild Service trees do not spread easily as fertile seeds require several months of extremely cold temperatures over a couple of years before the seeds will geminate. However they do sucker. We have pulled up as much bramble as possible to allow the suckers room to establish and grow to become new trees.