Making charcoal is an ancient art which far precedes the traditional Welsh BBQ, in fact humans in Britain have been using charcoal for at least 4,000 years.
It is because of this ancient history we have shaped our woodlands, creating glades and clearings in forests which allow flowers, butterflies and bees to flourish. Butterflies in particular benefit from greater openings in the canopy.
It is only in recent decades that we have seen a decline in charcoal creation which has also resulted in a neglect of woodlands, not great for Welsh favourites the bluebell and wood anemones which need the forest clearings to benefit.
Now a small team of staff and volunteers on Gower are making a difference, the local Wildlife Trust have set up a charcoal project in Gelli Hir Woods Nature Reserve. This project will not only bring a bit of income back in to conservation work it will also show how managing woodlands is great for wildlife.
Senior Wildlife Trust Officer, Paul Thornton said “This has been a fantastic project to run, it is so important for our Gower wildlife.
Woodlands can easily get neglected which results in dense canopy and this reduces light onto the woodland floor. Plants, insects and the animals which rely on them begin to decline and this results in poorer local biodiversity.
Our woodland management is low intensity and sustainable, rotating our work so that we always have a mixture of sunlit woodland floor and older woodland- creating the widest range of wildlife-friendly habitats”
The team held open days in May in order that people could get an appreciation of the importance of coppicing and the processes behind charcoal making. Where can I buy Gower charcoal?