Your woodlands are facing an uncertain future
New diseases, climate change and poor management threaten all of Wales’ woodlands – please help.
Find out what we need help with in your area. You can either donate via PayPal or by downloading our donation form and returning it to
The Winter Appeal – The Nature Centre,
Fountains Road, Tondu,
Bridgend, CF32 0EH
Castle Woods nature reserve near Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, South Lodge Woods.
This habitat management work is part funded by Glastir Woodland Management, and aims to thin out some of the more crowded tree regrowth, particularly sycamore, to favour the larger and better specimens of tree which have the potential to become our future veterans.
Veteran trees in Castle Woods host a wealth of other important wildlife from breeding birds to scarce lichens. Castle Woods is a SSSI and National Nature Reserve, and the woodland habitats within Dinefwr are recognised as one of its most special features
The work in South Lodge woods started in 2015, it’s a five year woodland management plan. This year we thinned a section of woodland, leaving all the felled timber on the ground, to thin out the crowded tree growth and also to help the community of deadwood invertebrates which is seen as a special feature in castle woods SSI and national nature reserve. In the large gaps in the canopy left by the thinning we planted oak, cherry and hazel trees.
We also made and installed bird boxes, owl boxes and bat boxes, several of the bird boxes were used this year, including blue tits, great tits and pied fly catchers.
We want to continue the work that started in 2015, To thin out the sections of woodland yet to be thinned, for the benefit of the veteran trees, invertebrates birds and the ground flora which will receive more light. We will also continue to monitor the bird boxes on site.
Thinning and improving structure in Ceredigions woodlands
We have just completed 5 years of Better Woodland Wales funded work in 5 of our woodland reserves. This has included thinning and coupe felling in Pant Da, Coed Simdde Lwyd and Coed Maidie B Goddard which will create a more varied age structure and will allow more light in, benefitting the remaining trees and the understorey.
Already we’ve seen more butterflies in the coupes. We also removed dangerous and over-shading sycamore trees at Old Warren Hill which let light into the woodland floor and benefitted the bluebells and other trees such as hazel. Access was improved at Coed Penglanowen with new paths and bridges.
At Cwm Clettwr we’ve halo thinned the dense birch and willow around the oaks, hazels and rowans (and some heather patches). In the long run this will benefit the woodland and the resident dormice.
Over the coming winter we’ll be keeping on top of the brambles (they like the extra light too!), especially in the bluebell areas; continuing the halo thinning in more areas of Cwm Clettwr and at Coed Maidie we want to open up some of the ride sides and maybe a glade to attract more butterflies and woodland flowers.
At Old Warren Hill we’ll be cutting back some of the sycamore regrowth and the roadside trees. Although we try to leave the trees at Penderi Cliffs alone, some of them are starting to make walking the path very difficult so need to be trimmed back.
Taf Fechan Nature Reserve coppice improvements.
Coppicing of hazel has been carried out at Taf Fechan Nature Reserve over the last four years, making Rees’ Wood a more diverse habitat for wildlife and a more welcoming place for people to visit.
Dark and narrow paths have been widened, and views of the sky and beautiful valley have been uncovered. Bat boxes have been put up throughout the coppice, habitat piles and wildlife refuges have been created, and the woodland has been reinvigorated with fresh growth and sunny rides.
Rees’ wood is bisected by an old sewage treatment works, which was decommissioned long ago and is being reclaimed by nature.
The Trust would like to remove the old palisade fencing which encloses much of the site, to allow wildlife to move more freely through the Nature Reserve, and to make it a more accessible and attractive place for the local community.
We need to hire power tools, spend several days disentangling the fences, trees and undergrowth, and transport the scrap metal off-site.
Bats, butterflies and dormice in Pembrokeshires woodlands
In Pembrokeshire, our woodland reserves continue to be managed to benefit a variety of species that include the brown hairstreak butterfly, barbastelle bat and dormouse. Thinning of ash trees at West Williamston allows better opportunities for younger specimens to grow and provide continuity of this species for aphids and the honeydew they secrete, a key food source of the butterfly.
Barbastelle bats at Pengelli Forest are catered for by ensuring flight paths are kept open, especially along streams, and woodland edges managed to favour moths, a key food source. This reserve is also home to a population of dormice and hazel coups are coppiced on a rotational basis each year allowing for a sustained habitat, with honey suckle and areas of bramble left for nesting opportunities.
It is the dormouse that we are seeking to better manage our woodlands for, both at Pengelli and Teifi Marshes. The latter reserve has had a few possible sightings over the years yet very little woodland management and survey work. There is a clear requirement to better manage possible dormouse areas at Teifi Marshes through coppicing mature hazel and hawthorn stands whilst also clear-felling some larger trees to promote younger growth. Some management can be undertaken by volunteers yet it is contractors that are required for bulk of the work.
Improving the woodland structure out on Gower
Ever since the reserves were acquired, WTSWW staff and volunteers have endeavoured to eradicate the invasive Rhododendron and Cherry Laurel which can swap the woodland floor and prevent regeneration of seedling trees and shade out all field layer species.
In the last decade this work has continued with good success and habitat management, coppicing and thinning has been undertaken in several coups to let in the light and create a varied age structure through each coup so biodiversity can flourish.
We now need to continue this work. Without annual monitoring and action the invasive species will again creep through the understorey. We also need to continue working through the woodlands thinning and coppicing. Our management plans have identified the areas in which we will work up to 2020 and we are writing management plans for ten years beyond that.
Our woodlands need attention, especially the areas of secondary woodland where the canopy trees are even aged, tall and skinny, and closely spaced. These trees are at risk from multiple wind-throw or from death as they simultaneously reach maturity. In this situation we would lose large areas of woodland because young trees have not had the opportunity to germinate and develop in the understorey.
Our future management will also look to future-proofing and allowing a healthy woodland ecosystem to establish should the Ash succumb to Chalara Ash Die Back.