Warm Winter Greeting to all our Wales Volunteers
Volunteers are an invaluable part of the Coed Cadw Team. You help us work towards our vision of a UK rich in woods and trees. By maintaining well-managed woodland you are providing habitat for native species, many of which are currently facing decline e.g. woodland butterflies have declined by 41% since 1990 (State of the UK’s Woods and Trees 2021). The trees you plant and the woods you care for lock up carbon to fight climate change, improve our health and reduce pollution and flooding. Throughout your tasks you help us protect trees from threats: joining our campaigns helps avoid the threat of woodland loss, Observatree volunteers help us understand and control imported diseases, working groups remove invasive plants, and installing tree guards on young trees prevents mammal browsing. Wildlife monitoring and the Ancient Tree Inventory give us the evidence to guide our actions.
The Wales team would like to thank you, and part of that thank you is shouting about your contribution. This is our first annual volunteering newsletter for our Wales Team – volunteers and staff – I hope you enjoy reading it.
Warm regards, Martha Boalch (Volunteer Development Officer, Wales)
Ancient Tree Inventory Verifiers – Tom Reed
As of 10 November 2021, we have had 657 trees added to the ATI in Wales this year. Of which 84 ancient, 297 veteran and 148 notable. The largest maiden tree recorded so far this year was an oak recorded by Sam Bridgewater at the Dinam estate (pictured) and is over 8m in girth.
We are also in the process of trialling our new ATI verifier course, which has involved several key staff from partners in Wales undergoing the training – this will have greatly boosted our verifier numbers for Wales. We hope to run more verifier training next year but dates for these have not been set.
Brynau Woodland Working Group – Chris Matts and Ed Tucker
Our existing and new volunteers at Brynau WWG have been very busy. Their varied tasks have included Rhododendron and Himalayan Balsam clearance, tree and hedge planting, litter picking, wildflower meadow creation, step maintenance, painting gates, moving cattle, and clearing drains. We will be starting biodiversity surveys soon and work on the volunteer hub in the old piggery will soon be complete! (Video about Brynau)
Cefn Ila Woodland Working Group – Rob Davies and Sasha Ufnowska
Our small group at Cefn Ila has recently received a boost of new members thanks to promotion of our volunteer recruitment effort. The group continue to deliver excellent care for the woods and other features at this unique site. The Pinetum, walled garden, orchard, lake all need attention as well as the paths and invasive species. (Video about Cefn Ila)
Guided Walk Leaders – Kylie Jones Mattock and Rebecca Good
Despite lockdown and Covid regulations, our walk leader volunteers have been able to put on some walks in the latter half of this year. The Clywedog Trail at Plas Power in July, In the Pawprints of Pine Martens at Cwm Mynach in September and Ancient Tree Recording Walk (pictured) at Coed Felinrhyd in October (Video about Felinrhyd). They will be busy planning walks for next year over the winter.
Observatree – Rebecca Gosling
Observatree volunteers visited the National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmarthenshire, for our training day, delivered by tree health experts from Forest Research, the lead partners of the project. This year we focused on how to estimate tree metrics and crown condition assessment.
This autumn the Observatree website had an upgrade. Our website contains guides, posters, videos and other learning resources for our priority pests and diseases: www.observatree.org.uk.
Observatree is looking for new volunteers to join our specialist network. All you need is an interest in tree health and some basic tree ID skills. You’ll be trained via webinars and field days, and do self-directed learning using our online resources. To find out more please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer Speakers – Talking Trees, Martha Boalch
Our previously national speaker program has been divided up and Martha Boalch is now overseeing the Wales program. Our 5 volunteer speakers have delivered several online talks through lockdown and now face to face talks are on the rise with talks in the calendar for 2022 already. Our volunteer talks are well received, encouraging interesting discussion and questions.
Wales Advisory Panel Volunteers – Natalie Buttriss
These volunteers ‘donate’ their expertise to strategic topics of conversation. As critical friends, members of the group provide perspectives to the Director and her management team on current issues to help shape our plans in the coming years. In July 2020, we discussed what a Green Recovery for trees and woods might look like and considered key policy asks for the Welsh Parliament elections ahead of May 2021. This helped shape our Election Manifesto. In August this year we had a follow up session on the Parliament results and our next steps. General conclusions were that our manifesto was a resounding success with much of our language now being used by Ministers and civil servants in Welsh Government.
This year we held a site visit near Machynlleth to Bwlch Corog (pictured), our land leased to the Wales Wild Land Foundation – here we walked and talked about ancient woodland restoration and protection issues in the context of a changing landscape.
If you think you have knowledge and experience to share with the Advisory Group, please get in touch with Natalie for an informal chat (Wales@woodlandtrust.org.uk) – she is keen to have a variety of backgrounds and perspectives represented especially around the areas of influencing tree strategies in urban areas and with local authorities and Wales-wide public engagement campaigns.
Thank you to our current Advisory Group, who continue to stimulate good debate and ideas.
Wentwood Woodland Working Group – Rob Davies a Sasha Ufnowska
The Wentwood group was formed before lockdown and held just one session. Post lockdown the group has restarted, and we’ve successfully recruited lots of new volunteers recently. Sasha expertly leads the group to safely achieve, Himalayan balsam and bracken removal, coppicing, ride widening (pictured) and fence instalment. We are working in close partnership with the team at NRW as WT own a third of the overall woods and NRW own two thirds. We are also working with CADW to restore the Scheduled Ancient Monuments on site including two bronze age barrows and to improve the visitor experience.
Woodland Wardens – Site Managers, Wales
Our 20 wardens across Wales have been invaluable all year, especially as they were able to continue to be the eyes and ears on our sites during lockdowns and increased visitor numbers that were experienced. Ffos Las wardens continue to be a great support maintaining a presence on site, monitoring drainage, and allowing access for contractors. The warden at Coed y Gopa continues to be a positive presence for visitors to the woods as well as enhancing their visits with regular litter picks (pictured). Our warden at Wentwood is carrying out ongoing wildlife monitoring in the woods which provides very helpful insight for the site manager. Thank you to all our wardens for keeping watch at our sites.
Sneak Peek ahead to 2022
As always, I’ll be keeping you posted with relevant news and events on Whittle, email, and the Facebook group. I aim to meet up face to face with you all as much as possible, so look out for the invites on the various platforms. We’ll hopefully be recruiting for new volunteers at Cwm George and Casehill Woods, Dinas Powys. ATI and Observatree will be recruiting for new verifiers and tree disease volunteers. There will be a virtual online conference for all Woodland Trust volunteers in March 2022 which will celebrate volunteer achievements and impacts. And I hope to run another Symposium during November and follow that with another end of year newsletter.