It’s not new, but it’s still surprisingly uncommon – planting without fencing or ‘traditional’ protection from stock. By using the natural features of the landscape and intuitive planting techniques it is possible to plant trees where grazing livestock is still present and one perhaps well-known person has been doing it for decades. He came to visit our Dyfi to Dwyryd treescape and shared his experience and knowledge with a group of us. He is called the Tree Shepherd and learning the specific techniques was extremely useful for a group of us who wanted to know more. We consisted of landowners, advisers and those working on possibilities through the new land use scheme, including in the heart of Welsh Government.
To do this well the key concepts are: Sabre planting is the most common – planting at 90 degrees to a steep slope helps to keep the vulnerable leading shoots as far out of reach as possible. Natural protection is something which works well on less steep slopes – using natural features to make the trees difficult to reach. These include gorse, bracken, dense molinia, river banks and rocky outcrops.
Learning to think like cattle and make sure the trees are suitably hidden is what has been so successful in sites throughout North Wales for years. The planting here was going to be different however, as the two sites we used, one a private site and one our own Bwlch Corog, both have large herbivores. Our fluffy friends soon come over to see what we were up to, so the challenge was making sure their reach did not extend to our placement of the trees. Only time will tell if this works! Our close colleagues at Cambrian Wildwood (who manage Bwlch Corog) then spent the next two days with the Tree Shepherd, planting more trees with volunteers using the same methods.
As part of our work in the Dyfi to Dwyryd treescape, where mosaic habitat for nature recovery and using more natural processes are forefront, we are organising events like these to allow interested groups of people to share knowledge and build new networks. Our aim is to facilitate more trees in the landscape at a scale which works for everyone, that not only site well in the landscape but also with farmers, who can continue to farm. This ensures that both people and wildlife benefit from tree establishment.
Laura Shewring, Treescapes Development Lead – Dyfi to Dwyryd