First up, we are bringing some new changes to the blog this year. There will be articles from more members of the team here in Brecon about the work we are involved in as well as more regular updates on our Facebook page. You’ll be hearing from the access, estates and nature conservation teams, but first of all, we’ll kick off with the woods team and what’s going on at Pont-ar-Daf.
I think it’s fair to say, there has been quite a change in the woods at Pont-ar-Daf. Most notably this kicked off at the start of 2012 when works began to remove trees that fell under a plant health notice to control the spread of Phytophthora ramorum disease in the Larch trees that made up most of the road edge of the woodland. At the same time, we were just starting a project to bring a bit of management and life back into this neglected conifer plantation.
After making some alterations to our plans to account for the mass felling of the larch, we moved onto the task of creating an access track to get us into the woods so that we can start managing it by being able to get around. The winter after the felling we planted the felled area with a mix of upland broadleaved species, minus ash with the outbreak of another tree disease, chalara.
The new planting seemed to attract the hill sheep that made it through the fence to the road, this prompted us to fence the woodland to protect all the new trees which were like sweets to the sheep. So the fence is just to keep the sheep out, you are welcome to use the gates to have a look around, just keep an eye out in case we are working and you need to keep your distance.
This year will see us focus our efforts on clearing the block of Sitka spruce near the Pont-ar-Daf gate to the hill. This block has reached maturity and is ripe to harvest. The intention for these trees has always been as a commercial crop and now we are just fulfilling the cycle so that the next one can begin. With that out the way, we hope to put the finishing touches to our access tracks that will help with the long-term management of the woods.
So what is the vision beyond? Well, it will remain a woodland and we’re certainly not going to be felling it all in one go. Some areas will be thinned to allow the remaining trees to mature into good timber trees, small parcels will be cut to allow new areas to be planted up so that we can move towards a continuous cover method of woodland management that is more favourable to wildlife and the landscape view. After all that work, the woodland will be left for some rest and recuperation, to adapt to its new spaces, for the new trees to get away and to let everything settle down.
The woods team.