Last week a combined effort of Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers plus Countryside Connection project officer Helen Grey , Countryside Connection Volunteers, and Gower AONB Ranger Huw Lloyd saw close to 30 meters of hedgerow layed at Killay Marsh. It was a great couple of days and everyone got a chance to use the billhook and get a feel for this traditional skill (thorns included!).
We were laying using the Flying Gower technique, an established style for the area we were in. Traditional hedgelaying would have been used as an effective way of creating stock proof barriers. However today as the skill becomes less and less common we value it as a method of regenerating old hedges, as it prolonging their life expectancy and promotes growth at the base of the hedge. This has benefits to wildlife too. A dense hedge becomes a wildlife corridor full of feeding and nesting potential.
We have also created a fence at Gelli Hir. This time it was using hazel coppiced from the site. We wanted to create a barrier for when we are making charcoal. Gelli Hir is one of our busiest sites and we want visitors to be able to see and have an understanding of how and why we are managing the woodland. The kilns can be easily viewed by visitors to the site, but as you would expect, they get very hot.
The fence has been constructed using another time honoured technique- hurdles. The materials for the upright came from some of our sturdier coppiced hazel and split sweet chestnut. Then using the bendier hazel rods, also collected whilst coppicing, we wove the structure together. We were all amazed at how quick and relatively easy this was to do. The result has been is an attractive safety barrier in keeping with the woodland, that has been sustainably made from materials gathered on site.
At Overton Mere, on the South Gower Coast, a major gorse clearance effort is underway. Although the wildlife benefits of gorse are numerous its nature is invasive, under threat are the delicate flora and fauna currently found at the site, including the rare Goldilocks aster. The work is being carried out with staff, volunteers and contractors.
We are also putting in infrastructure to allow for future grazing. With the gorse cleared and horses put back on the reserve we hope to restore and maintain the maritime heath and limestone grassland. This project has been funded by CCWs Ecosystems Resilience and Diversity Fund.
You can find regular updates on what we've been up to, especially in the woods, at www.facebook.com/thegowercharcoalmakers