A virtuous circle – working with volunteers to use timber from our estate, on our estate!
Kylie Jones Mattock reports from her patch in North Wales:
Last year was all about joined-up management at Coed Felinrhyd & Llennyrch!
The third-largest site in Wales, the wood comprises a Planted Ancient Woodland Site known as Coed Felinrhyd, which has been undergoing gradual restoration in the careful hands of the Trust since the 1990s, and Llennyrch, a farm with a core of precious Celtic Rainforest at its heart, which the Trust acquired in 2015.
It is an inspiring, if rather rugged site, and our visitors have told us they struggle to navigate confidently around the wood, especially the newly acquired farm, which until 2015 had fairly limited public access opportunities. So we have devised three waymarked routes to help people find their way! The work contributes to our aim to improve the visitor welcome at the top 250 ‘welcome sites’ across the UK.
At the same time, we have been undertaking sensitive thinning operations in some of the harder-to-access areas of Coed Felinrhyd, removing Japanese larch to allow young broadleaf regeneration to flourish. It is tricky to market this timber commercially as it is so hard to extract on a large scale without causing damage…
However, larch makes excellent external timber and lasts well in wet conditions (it rains on around 200 days of the year here!), and our Estate Maintenance Contractors, Kehoe Countryside, who have been working with the Woodland Trust almost since our first sites in Wales were purchased, has just invested in a small saw mill…
The stage was set: enter the Snowdonia Society, a local partner who run fantastic volunteer sessions across the Snowdonia National Park in support of improving and protecting the landscape for wildlife and people.
We set up a programme of monthly work parties. Volunteers, working alongside Trust staff and Kehoe Countryside experts, learned new skills such as planning, palm routing and waymarker installation. There was a huge mix of participants. Some were existing Trust or Snowdonia Society volunteers, while others were students on an accredited Conservation Skills course. We even welcomed a group of off-road enthusiasts keen to give back something to the countryside!
The weather swung between glorious and biblically wet but we persevered. Now we are looking forward to the spring when we can show off our new trail network on a guided walk!
We are planning more exciting work with Snowdonia Society this year, so check out their online programme if you would like to take part! snowdonia-society.org.uk/volunteer/
If you don’t fancy getting wet and muddy, we also need a Woodland Heritage Researcher to find out and report back on the history of this outstanding wood: we’re just discovered that the farmhouse was built in the mid 1500s! What else might we discover? Visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/volunteer to find out more.
Sourcing timber from our estate is a sustainable way to satisfy our timber needs and we know exactly where it comes from and how it was harvested: all timber used on our estate needs to be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or sustainably sourced.
We also used oak from a thinning, undertaken to benefit lichens, to replace a beautiful split oak fence: traditional countryside skills like this risk being lost but we hope the fence will last a lifetime!
Kylie Jones Mattock firstname.lastname@example.org
Estate Manager, Wales