Where does it all go?

As recently mentioned on our facebook page, one of the things I really enjoy is seeing the timber we fell, from the woods we manage, going on to be used.
This is most obvious when we are milling the timber for use by ourselves and the rest of the ranger team across the Brecon Beacons and Monmouthshire.

Ready, set, go. Milling day.

Ready, set, go.
Milling day.

A few weeks ago the mobile sawmill came to help us do just that. Not only is the process just mesmerising, but also seeing the calculation of what is on the cutting list and how the sawyer estimates as he goes along, what he’ll get out of each log. And best of all, there is no waste. The sawn timber heads off to the rangers for their projects, the slab wood (the outer edges of the logs from something round being made square) goes into the log store for our bunkhouse and office and even the sawdust gets cleared away as our tenant farmers find it useful for animal bedding or when they are tagging to keep the yard clean.
On the cutting list this time around, we had timber for new benches and gates, a roof purling to repair storm damage to a historic grain dryer, planks for making habitat boxes, timber for cladding a shed in wavy board – these are boards where one side hasn’t been squared to show the contours of the tree as well as all the regular sizes that we just seem to get through repairing stuff.

This however is just a small amount of the timber the woodlands produce, the rest goes its different ways, all dependent on species, diameter, length and how straight or knotty it is. All the species have their own properties that make them desirable to particular uses. It may be strength, flexibility, colour, resilience to weathering, ease of working. Whilst all softwood may be referred to as pine, you’re just as likely to be picking up spruce or fir species.

Similar, but different.

Similar, but different.

Thinking of the trees we have been felling at Pont-ar-Daf, the biggest and best will often find itself in mills, destined for the building industry as beams, boards, studwork, joists, batons, kitchen carcasses, almost anywhere in your house. Second pick probably goes to industrial or outdoor uses. Here the timber may be heading in to fencing, farm gates, fencing panels, pallets and many more uses that we are probably yet to hear of. The final picking will be the bendy bits and odd length off-cuts, these will make their way into the fuel market, either for firewood logs or to be chipped and fed into power stations or boiler systems.

Tim – Woodland Ranger

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Christmas comes to the woods

The woodland Christmas tree

A special tree tucked away in the woods.

Whilst working on one of our sites, looking for a tree for the Royal Welsh Winter Fair, we came across this ready decorated one in the depths of the wood.  It is rather past its best though and we didn’t think we’d be able to drag it out with its tinsel and decorations intact.  In the end, we found something a bit fresher for the Winter Fair.  The Winter Fair tree is also appearing at Hay School as each year we offer the tree to one of the local schools that we are involved with.

The slightly larger item in the news recently has been that of ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea).  Currently, the effects are mostly being seen in the south east of the UK and in new plantings.  The most up to date information can be found on the Forestry Commission website http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara.
For us here in Mid & SE Wales, we don’t currently have any confirmed cases and there are none in the area at the time of writing.  Heading into winter, having had a few hard frosts, the disease is now in a dormant state until spring.
We’ll be keeping an eye out for the signs of disease and you can too.  The Forestry Commission have a video guide and a pictorial guide to help identify infected trees.


The University of East Anglia have created the AshTag app for most smart phones to help you record suspected cases for verification and notification.  Available for Android and Apple phones.

November milling 2012

Round, square and firewood.

We’ve been out milling timber again.  This time the order was for material to renew the decking outside our base camp – familiar to any of you that have joined us on a working holiday  or rented the base camp for a weekend.

Dan-y-Gyrn deck

The woods team are helping out our newly acquired property Tredegar House  next month.  We’ll be heading down to help get them going on their tree surveys around the site.  Last week we met up with them to help out removing some tricky trees on their boundary with the neighbouring factory.

December will have us running all over the place, making sure customers get their deliveries and that buyers collect their timber before the Christmas close down.  Somewhere amongst all this, if we can find the time, we hope to surface some of the new tracks at Pont-ar-Daf that provide a safer link path between Storey Arms and Pont-ar-Daf as well as our access track to help us get in and manage the woods.

It is also thank-you and goodbye to Peter our woodland volunteer.  He has helped us plant, fence, spray, build, chop, fix, dig and most enjoyably, fell trees.  We wish him the best in his new work.  If this sounds like your thing, keep an eye out, we’ll start looking for a new woods volunteer in the New Year.

See you out there,
The Woods Team.