We are a committed group of volunteers who manage a large young urban woodland with mixed habitats of grasslands, water and trees on an ex industrial spoil site in the south wales valleys.
The late 20th century saw land reclamation, tree planting and grassland schemes on site which produced mixed results. The main problem was that there was no onward effective management, the fast growing" nursery" larch became dominant and shaded out the underplanting of mixed deciduous woodland depriving it of light and air. The grasslands were colonised by pioneer goat willow, birch and seedling conifers. The tracks and paths and drainage fell in to disrepair, the blocked underground drainage pipes though good habitat for froglets ( we had hundreds jumping out of one of them), exacerbated the problem, water gouging out deep channels in the main track making it impassable.
Littering and all the other anti -social inappropriate goings on was endemic, so when we started in 2015 it was a bit of a mess but we are getting there! We have created lots of new habitat for the froglets by directing the water in to the woodlands away from the track and despite the deluges we have had we have kept the water off the main track, had all the blocked manholes unblocked and stopped flooding from the woodlands in to the road below us. Our volunteers who we train to city and guilds standard keep the footpaths clear while sparing the wild flowers which we cut in October and rake off after seed drop. We have mended fences and walls and reduced anti-social behaviour and are in the process of doing much more infrastructure work, we have planted a heritage orchard, a nut grove and started a community gardens and small tree nursery on site. We are a community woodland so in collaboration with others we run events, bug walks, bird id, fungi id, apple juicing, we gave over 10,000 trees away in the "my tree our forest scheme", we aim to make the woodlands the sustainable green beating heart of the community, which we can all benefit from whilst co-existing with the natural world and where we can help to inspire its future custodians
We are slowly removing the larch and spruce, creating glades where we have loads of regen and wild flora and fauna moving in, our policy is not to clear fell which would deprive everyone of a woodland and would ravage the woodland floor, but where possible selectively fell letting the understory thrive. We mill the larch making sustainable larch cladding, firewood, fence posts, simple benches ploughing the money back in to the woodlands.
We are currently doing a big grassland conservation project removing most of the scrub and have already got some lovely young native breed cattle ready to go on it in the spring
We have the near threatened scarce blue damsel fly, the section 7 listed dingy skipper, the nationally scarce grass veneer, we recently had the first recorded sighting of the tormentil mining bee in Blaenau Gwent and have many more of conservation importance. So our conservation work is really important to keep existing and to create new habitat for biodiversity.
We have an old failing alpine tractor which has to be trailered in and is great for winching out trees but to be able to more effectively do the work we do we desperately need as they say " a newer model!!!"
A road going tractor that can tow our cut and collect mower, that any of our tractor trained volunteers can collect as sadly we can't keep anything on site and which would enable us to work more effectively on our large mixed terrain site
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