Ffynone and Cilgwyn Woodland
Situated in North Pembrokeshire, about 7 miles south of Cardigan. Located in a secluded valley, the woodlands extend to about 325 acres, when we bought them in 2006 they were comprised of around 170 acre of plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS), 30 acres ancient woodland and 125 acres of plantation on former agricultural land.
Since then we have clear-felled about 50 acres of the plantations and replanted as broadleaves, we then lost another 100 acres to wind blow during a storm in 2014 which was planted as mix of 60% broadleaf and 40% conifer, meaning the woodland is now predominantly broadleaf and has good age and species diversity.
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 a SAC.
The woodlands were previously part of the estate of Ffynone mansion initially being predominantly native woodland, and that being mostly oak standards over coppice, but also with a number of conifers, mostly planted in the 1780’s.
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. Since buying the woodland we have adopted a continuous cover policy and been thinning the conifers. The unstable Norway on the heavy clay valley bottom we chose to clear-fell part of in 2008 and the rest blew over in a storm in 2014. The more stable Douglas fir has responded well to thinning on the rock based valley sides. We have also planted over 10,000 edible fruit and nut trees to develop an edible forest on a vast scale.
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 have been developing simultaneously.
Public access is a key area of importance for us; as such we have increased and improved access within the woodlands. This has involved several areas of development. We increased the available car parking space, and leveled the entrance to make it more suitable for older and less able visitors. We have installed a number of resting benches at regular intervals.
We have created number of new track ways to link up paths, thereby designing a variety of walks of different lengths and difficulty, to suit walkers of all abilities.
Forestry operations are the driving force behind this project, as this is how we transform the woodland environment and fund all other operations We follow a continuous cover plan for the woodland and a move towards species and ages diversity of the crop so that a wide variety of needs can all be met from within the woodland, with the aim to supply the products as locally as possible.
Sustainability is a key objective for us as we believe alternatives need to be sought. We are aware of issues like peak oil and earth 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 use all available options currently, including modern harvesters, forwarders and diggers for the installation of tracks while they is available. If changes do occur we hope to have designed the woodlands so they could be managed using horses and axes. In the meantime we have been training up people to work in the woodland and have been developing a sustainable business based around adding value to the various products that are available from the timber we harvest.
Phase 1 the first 10 years was mostly about community engagement, running trailing courses, putting in the main infrastructure of the forest roads, fencing and doing the initial thinning and felling of the plantations. The wind blow event of 2014 and the 2 years it took to tidy that up, for us at least, signified the end of the initial phase.
Phase 2 the next 10 years after one member left due to ill health and another died, we thought long and hard about what to do next. Initially we looked for new workers and a new direction, developing the sawmill to add value to the large Douglas fir that needs thinning and developing the on-site ability to add value is where we have chosen to start. Increasing the ability of local people to get involved is a priority. We have already started that by developing the mountain bike tracks, and engaging new workers. Over time we hope to add in other projects such as dredging the lake, returning the silt to local fields, restoring the hydro and using the electricity well, are where we are moving towards.
If you have any questions about what we are doing or why please contact us