Could you…

We work in the woods.  Some of these woods have a lot of conifers.

So inevitably, around this time of year, talk moves to Christmas trees.  This year we have cut trees for Dyffryn Gardens to display in the house and to go on our stand at the Royal Welsh Winter Fair.  Dyffryn started with an order for quite a large tree, but once in the hall, despite looking very impressive, it wasn’t possible to get it to stand on its own.  So we trimmed it down to a mere 12 foot.

before after

On our track works, we have finally made it to the top of Pont-ar-Daf, there is a glimmer of light and we can hear you all chatting as you walk the Storey Arms path on the hill.  For now we just have the trees down and hope to get moving with the digger in the new year.  A quick borrow of a digger from the buildings team has also allowed us to clear some of the drainage on the Skirrid which should make a walk around the wood a bit more pleasant.

A couple of years ago we did some tree surgery works on one of the ash trees by Pont-ar-Daf car park.  This was to remove some of its canopy to reduce the chances of it being blown over after removing all the larch that had been sheltering it.  We have now done the same for the other tree with help from Jon at Usk Valley Training.  This tree was a little more delicate as it already had some tears and rot, but hopefully this will give the tree a few more years and save it from tearing itself apart in the wind.

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Finally, we hand you over to Kate to introduce herself and share some of what she has been up to since she started volunteering with us in September.

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I joined the woods team at the beginning of September as part of an apprenticeship scheme with Herefordshire and Ludlow College. The course allows me to gain experience in the field as well as studying at college once a week and gain certificates in particular tasks such as basic chainsaw use, working near power lines and machine use. A little background info, I actually studied at university to become a potter, which I did, running my own business for about 5 years but due to economic downturn I found myself climbing the ladder in retail. After realising it wasn’t for me I decided to change direction and follow my desire to work outdoors helping the environment and so here I am, starting without any prior knowledge but learning every day with some very patient teachers! Within the 3 months I’ve converted timber, processed firewood, built fences and planted trees with plenty more tasks lined up, or so I’ve been told. I’ve actually got my felling course next week which will allow me to start knocking over some trees and get really stuck in. I’m enjoying it immensely and the experience and knowledge I’m gaining is truly valuable for my future within this field.

So that’s it from the woods team,
Enjoy your Christmas.

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Anything and everything

We’ve had a very variable time in weather and work schedule. We’ve been cutting trees down and sticking them back up again, seen many more loads of logs taken away from site, found time to deliver a special load of logs and even been above the tree line in a helicopter. Next month isn’t looking any quieter either.

First off though, we’ve had a little maintenance work to carry out in our yard, John from Usk Valley Training joined us for a day to help tame an oak tree in the middle of our car park. A little attention from time to time will allow us to keep this tree for a long time without it causing issues.

A small trim back to stop it out growing its boots.

I would also like to say a big thank-you to 5th Penllergaer Scouts. They joined us on a lovely day to help with the ongoing care of one of our new woodland plantings. They helped us remove over 2000 tree guards that saplings have now grown out of. The saplings are now 5 years old and no longer need the guards protection, in some cases, the guards were even restricting the trees growth. With the guards collected in, we’ll be able to re-use them again too.

It was all hands to the hill on the 11th May as the access team had their annual air-lift to get all their materials up the hill for this years planned footpath repairs.

Just the last few bags waiting to make their way to Pen-y-Fan.

In Pont-ar-Daf, with all the phytopthora control work out the way, we have started to fell a line to make way for a new access track around the woods. All the wood we fell here is cut to length for specific buyers who have been in collecting loads through the month. Timber from site is making its way to becoming gates and powering the power station at Port Talbot for you cup of tea.

Looking back at where we have come from.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Hay-on-Wye this month too. Firstly helping provide the raw materials – some big logs, for a log circle in the school grounds. This means that the infants will now be able to enjoy forest schools too.
The culmination of prepping over the last few months came together as we built the National Trust stand at Hay Festival. The main feature of the stand is a leafless tree. Throughout the festival we have been asking for peoples most memorable outdoor experiences on luggage tags and hanging them on the tree, bringing it back into leaf with colour. As well as providing a selection of logs for seating, we have also built a camp fire on the stand for people to share stories around. Thanks to our volunteers Richard and Philppa there are also some very rustic memory sticks.

That just about sums up May, June holds more rain, some outdoors inspiration, something special on the Gower and hopefully, a holiday.

The woodland team.

Hopefully this one will stay up…

Pont ar Daf Ash tree reduction

Pont ar Daf ash tree after canopy reduction.

We’ve done some reduction work on the ash tree at Pont-ar-Daf today.

With all the larch removed as part of the phytophthora ramorum control, it was looking a bit exposed to the wind.

Reducing the crown size will hopefully make it a bit less sail like and prevent it from being blown over.

In the spring it will hopefully send out lots of new growth, to form a new, tighter, canopy.

Woods team.