Growing Heart | Calon Yn Tyfu


We have now started the thinning work in various places in the woods, we have been felling to orders received. In the Douglas fir we have been supplying various self builders, and in Norway spruce mainly the saw mills. We were lent a harvester machine in the Autumn which enabled four of us to take a harvester operator training course, although the harvester has turned out to be not as useful as we had hoped due to its age which has meant we have now had to order a more modern machine for ourselves and retire the old one we were lent after it broke just before Christmas. We were at the time tackling the western hemlock stand and the machine breakage unfortunately meant we had to abandon the job which left the track blocked over new year and we must apologize for that, also we noticed some of the edge trees were starting to blow over which meant we took the decision to employ contractors to finish the clear fell of the hemlock as it will still be several months before we take delivery of our own harvester and we didn’t want to risk the whole block blowing over with all the root disturbance that causes.   We hope this will start in early February and be finished by April we have worked closely with C.C.W. to ensure the felling doesn’t impact the river gorge too adversely, and as this block is south facing we feel it will be a useful broadleaf, edible forest mix within the woods once established. Also once this block is finished it means it is the end of the planned clear fell operations and the rest of the woods will then be managed on a continuous cover basis.     we are also finishing off the remainder of the fencing which means the infrastructure works in the main body of the woods is basically complete.

The roads are complete and now form an extended circular route of just over 3 miles. The thinning operations which will transform the woods by initially allowing more light into the conifer areas and allow light to reach the floor and will help the process of natural regeneration. The  main haul road has settled nicely and is showing signs of blending in with greenery growing in at the edges and the coppiced edge trees regrowing well. The quarry we have been using is now  finished too. We  now  use the old quarry space as a wood yard, we have been bringing  the timber that is around the site, into this yard to process.  Milling it using local sawmill operators and selling locally as people order, this has been going for a variety of uses from making raised beds for MENCAP right through to house building. We have also been supplying the timber for the new community centre at Lammas in Glandwr.  We have been spending time marketing the timber that will  be produced and we believe we have now found a market for all the timber that will be cut. With over 32,000 new native trees having been planted, and now growing well and should become more visible as they are in their third year.

We have planted oaks from seed we previously collected  locally, these will be for full mature canopy trees as well as for coppice on a 27 year cycle, this should produce durable split fence posts that don’t need chemical treatment. We have planted ash coppice, also for use as firewood and craft, hazel for craft use and nut production, sweet chestnut for timber, fencing and nut production, a few hundred walnuts for timber and nuts, and a range of mixed natives for added wildlife benefit.

We have been planting wild flower and herbs and with the help of local school children, fruit trees fruit bushes and strawberries, to date we have planted around 100 fruit trees and intend to plant more each year.

These new areas of mixed broadleaf trees will transform the woods from a single species woods to a diverse local user friendly one.  We feel the benefits will be felt by many local people for generations to come. The previous crop of conifers was just that, a crop to be felled when mature, it was not particularly suited to the site and has had various adverse effects on the flora and fauna, which we are sure will now start to recover.

We are also  improving the general appearance of the entrance, by restoring and repairing the stone walls and pillars now the digger work is finished there. Mick and Len have already started on the stone wall near the car park. We hope to run a stonewalling training days for those interested, see the courses page or contact us for details.

We have also been busy removing the rhododendrons as they are known to spread disease to native broad leaf trees. Recently we have been giving them a secondary treatment to finish them off.

Across the bridge in Pen rallt we have created a link road, to join the top and bottom tracks, which extends to the length of the woods. This road is now complete. the most recent work has been up through Cilgwyn woods which helps access for residents from New Chapel. We have also done some work at the request of Pembrokeshire county council who funded the work to repair the bridleway that runs down from Parc Clement, this now opens another good circular route.

We have been tidying up some of the trees we had to fell to make the tracks, we have been processing some of the Douglas Fir on the new track behind the lake house and waterfall, we are getting some great logs for milling,  and plenty of material for fencing, and a steady market for these despite the downturn, we have been peeling the fencing our selves   and will also use these to fence some of the boundaries that we still need to do by hand. We have been processing some of the milled timber and made some sheds to take to events over the summer. We used some of the offcuts to make some simple benches which we placed around the woods.We managed to sell some composting toilets to festivals during the summer and we have also supplied both milled timber and round logs for house building, and recently used some timber to build a coffin.

We had a great open day on July 5th with around 100 people, we used the local green dragon bus to drive some of the older residents around to show some of the recent changes, most people were supportive and and about 60 people filled out a questionaire we handed out.

Outside the woods, we had a fantastic community day on Sunday 2nd November when we pressed over 200 bottles of apple juice and more than 30 people came and helped with the whole process, we hope to make this an annual event with November 1st already being mooted for 2010. This is just a taster of things to come once the fruit and nut orchards are producing in Ffynone.

This years  vegetable growing course, is just getting under way and is going from strength to strength with new people getting involved each year, this years  crops include, onions, strawberries,potatoes, salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot,apples, plums  and sweetcorn .   So if your serious about being self sufficient in food,  and want to learn the skills to grow on the appropriate scale, please  contact soon to be part of this exciting area . With forecasts of world food shortages  we are doing our bit by planting an extra few acres of veg.We are also extending this area this year by trying out techniques to store and preserve the produce over winter.

As a reminder please be careful where we are working, we have been putting up safety signs to either exclude or warn people, but it seems some people think it funny to steal them, although we are replacing them as soon as we notice, you might come across a site when they are missing so be aware. we are sorry for any inconvenience caused by this.

Although we are yet to publicise the website it has now had more than 50,000 hits,so thanks everyone. We are currently receiving more than 50 hits a day.

Upcoming meetings

We  are now well under way with our regular meetings, the last one was June 29th in Bwlchygroes village hall, where Richard Dobbins from Teifi bird group spoke about birds and moths. Our next meeting is on April 7th at Bwlchygroes community Hall, The theme is 5 year plans, looking back on the first five years to date and then looking forward to the next five years to see how, to increase peoples aspirations,and access. Also now that the  thinning has progressed we can see how everyone feels about that, and also to report back on the Fsc registration. We are using a short newsletter to keep people up to date and these seem to be generating a good response The idea of FSC certification is moving forward and if you want to be consulted as a stakeholder please get in touch quickly as it only a short time window to do this.We hope this process will highlight any areas we do need to address and give the wider community the assurance that our forest management techniques comply with current best practice .

With many real issues affecting the world now and in the near future we hope the result of this engagement will be a way to move forward constructively.

It is already possible to see how the trees we coppiced next to the main tracks have  grown back and after another years growth will  be taller still.

Forestry is a long term business and to be practiced effectively foresters need to think 50-200 years ahead to think what will be needed, how the climate and social system may change, sometimes it means making difficult choices, and we know that  forestry operations can look shocking especially in their first winter. But we also know that trees are the future in a low carbon economy and that in order to use wood products, someone has to cut down trees and plant new ones. Its a long cycle and people get used to them one way and rarely notice them growing  bigger each year. From a foresters  perspective a lot of Ffynone was crowded and dark, due to lack of active management, our plans to thin the rest of the conifers should let light  get to the forest floor to encourage natural regeneration but also allow the remaining conifers to grow larger.