Autumn in West Glamorgan

We have spent several days at Gelli Hir continuing our woodland thinning work and also coppicing with volunteers. The thinning is part of a five year programme where sections of the woodland have been selected to each year undergo management. With this work we aim to increase the biodiversity of our woods by opening up the tree canopy, and varying the age structure of the trees, thereby creating the right habitat conditions that favour the wide spectrum of woodland species.

The coppicing had been largely done by volunteers, who have almost cut down 0.3 hectare of mature hazel. This will rejuvenate the area with a benefit for the dormice, hazel being an important food source in autumn. Some of wood will be left at site as habitat for invertebrates, but the majority is being removed to make charcoal in our new kilns. One of which is based at Gelli Hir. The charcoal hopefully will generate some income that will fund our ongoing woodland management projects in the years to come.

We have also been thinning the woods at Craig Cilhendre. Craig Cilhendre has been neglected for a number of years and the scrub layer is dominated by holly. Although the wildlife benefits of holly are numerous it does also tend to take over once the canopy becomes shady. We aim to reduce the number of holly and thin to allow some room for some of the other trees to grow and mature. Coppicing is also been carried out with volunteers and the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Gower ranger, Huw Lloyd, at Hanbury woods. This again is part of a longer term management plan that should rejuvenate and prolong the life of the extremely old hazel coppices that are found at this site.

Last week we completed a job for the Woodland Trust at Craig fawr near Margam. The contract was to build 100 meters of riven fencing, using timber from the site. We milled the sweet chestnut to make the posts and used the traditional practice of cleaving for the rails. Cleft fencing is the original method of fencing that was used thousands of years ago. Chestnut is often used as it has a high resilient strength, is suitable for cleaving and also has a high tannin content that protects the wood from rot. The project was carried out using volunteers, it was hard work but great reward to see the fence coming together.

Chestnut fence by R Killa

Chestnut fence by R Killa

We now also have viewing platform at Killay Marsh. The work was carried out by the City and County of Swansea and volunteers. Volunteers donned waders and got stuck in clearing vegetation around the platform to open out the area and get better views into the marsh. Also an interpretation panel giving information about the marsh and the wildlife found there has been erected, making the platform a good focal point on the reserve for visitors.

At our newest reserve in west Glamorgan, the Dranges, management of the meadows is being continued. We are continuing to clear scrub to increase the size of the meadow’s as these have been identified as being particularly species rich. We have also conducted a marsh fritillary survey during September looking for the larval webs. Unfortunately despite our efforts to make the site favourable to marsh fritillaries we still do not appear to have the butterfly present.

And lastly we have been back at Prior’s woods and meadows clearing out scrub around the pond. We do this so that the pond doesn’t get too shaded out and filled with leaves. Each year we clear a section of willow scrub out from around the circumference. This ongoing approach sees some cover for birds and other pond users, but mainly keeps it open and free of leaves that will enrich the water and gradually silt the pond up.

We have spent several days at Gelli Hir continuing our woodland thinning work and also coppicing with volunteers. The thinning is part of a five year programme where sections of the woodland have been selected to each year undergo management. With this work we aim to increase the biodiversity of our woods by opening up the tree canopy, and varying the age structure of the trees, thereby creating the right habitat conditions that favour the wide spectrum of woodland species.

The coppicing had been largely done by volunteers, who have almost cut down 0.3 hectare of mature hazel. This will rejuvenate the area with a benefit for the dormice, hazel being an important food source in autumn. Some of wood will be left at site as habitat for invertebrates, but the majority is being removed to make charcoal in our new kilns. One of which is based at Gelli Hir. The charcoal hopefully will generate some income that will fund our ongoing woodland management projects in the years to come.

           

We have also been thinning the woods at Craig Cilhendre. Craig Cilhendre has been neglected for a number of years and the scrub layer is dominated by holly. Although the wildlife benefits of holly are numerous it does also tend to take over once the canopy becomes shady. We aim to reduce the number of holly and thin to allow some room for some of the other trees to grow and mature. Coppicing is also been carried out with volunteers and the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Gower ranger, Huw Lloyd, at Hanbury woods. This again is part of a longer term management plan that should rejuvenate and prolong the life of the extremely old hazel coppices that are found at this site.

Last week we completed a job for the Woodland Trust at Craig fawr near Margam. The contract was to build 100 meters of riven fencing, using timber from the site. We milled the sweet chestnut to make the posts and used the traditional practice of cleaving for the rails. Cleft fencing is the original method of fencing that was used thousands of years ago. Chestnut is often used as it has a high resilient strength, is suitable for cleaving and also has a high tannin content that protects the wood from rot. The project was carried out using volunteers, it was hard work but great reward to see the fence coming together.

We now also have viewing platform at Killay Marsh. The work was carried out by the City and County of Swansea and volunteers. Volunteers donned waders and got stuck in clearing vegetation around the platform to open out the area and get better views into the marsh. Also an interpretation panel giving information about the marsh and the wildlife found there has been erected, making the platform a good focal point on the reserve for visitors. 

At our newest reserve in west Glamorgan, the Dranges, management of the meadows is being continued. We are continuing to clear scrub to increase the size of the meadow’s as these have been identified as being particularly species rich. We have also conducted a marsh fritillary survey during September looking for the larval webs. Unfortunately despite our efforts to make the site favourable to marsh fritillaries we still do not appear to have the butterfly present.

           

And lastly we have been back at Prior’s woods and meadows clearing out scrub around the pond. We do this so that the pond doesn’t get too shaded out and filled with leaves. Each year we clear a section of willow scrub out from around the circumference. This ongoing approach sees some cover for birds and other pond users, but mainly keeps it open and free of leaves that will enrich the water and gradually silt the pond up.