Growing Heart | Calon Yn Tyfu

Ffynone Woodland

Ffynone and Cilgwyn Woodlands are situated in West Wales, about 7 miles south of Cardigan, in North Pembrokeshire. Located in a secluded valley, the woodlands extend to 325 acres and comprise of around 50% plantations on ancient woodland sites(PAWS) 10% ancient woodland and 40% plantation on former agricultural land.

Ranging from fairly flat valley bottom, to steep valley sides, the woods has four rivers and a waterfall, with the remnants of the ancient woodland, including veteran oaks, mainly located around the river system, the site is a SSSI, and also an SAC.

The woodlands were previously part of the estate of Ffynone mansion and at  times must have been a sight to behold, being predominantly native woodland, and that being mostly oak standards over coppice, but also with a number of impressive conifers, many over 100 years of age. Unfortunately in the late 50’s the estate was broken up and the  site was cleared, and planted with conifers as a plantation and at that time some of the farmland in the valley bottom was co-opted from the tenant farms of the estate to create a more extensive woodland that we see today. It is now our intention to restore the site to its former glory by converting the woodland back to native broadleaves, on the PAWS sites, and on the former farmland, a mixture of native edible forestry, optimizing the flatter ground and better soils. retaining the remnant vetern trees will be an important priority for us.

Obviously it is one thing to say, but it is going to be a generation or longer to achieve, with endless amount of hard work in between. As such we are dividing our plan into sections so as to better explain how we will achieve our stated aim.

Cyd Coed grant funding was given to us on the understanding that we will run a 20 year multi-faceted project. Part of the Forestry Commission program is to develop the idea of community woodlands, where local people are encouraged to participate in their locality, and develop sustainable projects. Under the heading “Woods for all” we have several areas we intend to develop simultaneously.

Public access is a key area of importance for us, as such we hope to both increase and improve access within the woodlands. This will involve several area’s of development. From simply providing some car parking space, and levelling the entance to make it more suitable for older or less able visitors, to providing resting benches at regular intervals, and information signs to highlight different walking routes. We will be creating new track ways to link up paths, thereby designing a variety of walks of different lengths and difficulty, to suit walkers of all abilities. We also hope to put in a children’s play area, and a picnic site so once in the woodlands, people can extend their time spent.

Training courses are also key to our objectives, as we feel it is important to pass on ancient woodland skills, as well as learn modern forestry operations. As such we will be running a wide variety of courses to suit almost everyone, from simple tree identification walks, through to long term forestry apprenticeships. We will endeavour to find the best teachers and provide the courses at a reasonable cost and in a way that maximises the accessibility for all.

Forestry operations will be the driving force behind this project, as this will be how the woodland environment will be transformed from plantation to native, it is also where the income will be earned, to fund both the infrastructure improvements, and facilities to host the courses. We hope to be a center of excellence for both forest skills and practice. Making a wide variety of products on site, to add value, and demonstrate possibilities, we would hope to supply goods as locally as possible, and involve local people wherever we can.

Sustainability is a key objective for us as we believe alternatives need to be sought. We are aware of issues like peak oil and climate change, which will have a direct impact on all our lives. By adapting our approach to living and working we feel we will be able to lead by example. In forestry we feel there is a need to move away from crops that need specialized equipment for harvesting and processing, to one where methods are adopted that enable local participation. We intend to use all available options initially including modern harvesters, and diggers for the installation of tracks while it is available. Over time we hope to move towards the use of horses, and coppicing techniques that use more appropriate technology, for those living near the woods. We have spent a lot of time thinking about the needs of future generations; fencing, building, fuel and food and believe that with what we plan for the woodlands local people will be well served in all these areas.

We ask that people be patient, and contact us with questions. We have a forum area where people can discuss various topics and an area where people can tell us their ideas.

If you want to know about courses go to the page marked Courses to see what we have available.