County Voice

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Woodland Management Works

As part of the Our Picturesque Landscape Lottery funded project in the Dee Valley, we will be starting do some one woodland management works within the woodlands around the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct this winter.

Woodlands are dynamic habitats which are constantly changing. These special places can appear large and diverse to us, but on a landscape level they can unfortunately become uniform in structure and degraded in terms of biodiversity potential. Keeping our woodlands healthy and as diverse as possible for wildlife is one of our top priorities. In order to do this, we sometimes have to fell trees. Such work is carefully planned to ensure that nesting, roosting, and hibernating wildlife is protected.

The autumn and winter months, when deciduous trees have lost their leaves and few birds are nesting, is an ideal time to undertake active woodland management work. This often involves traditional techniques such as coppicing and thinning.

For centuries many woodlands have been managed by coppicing. This practice involves the periodic cutting back of selected trees or shrubs to ground level, leaving them to sprout new stems from the cut stumps. This is done during the winter when the tree is dormant. Coppicing results in more direct and indirect sunlight reaching the woodland floor and can stimulate growth of woodland plants such as primroses and bluebells. Foliage and flowers of these plants are a food source for invertebrates which in turn provide food for other animals such as birds and bats. The practice also ensures a mixed age range and variety of trees therefore benefitting the overall diversity of the woodland. Coppicing is a traditional woodland craft used to grow straight stems of wood which are used for making broom handles, bean poles, baskets, hurdles, etc. Several tree species react very well to coppicing, enabling them to last for many years, meaning they can provide further crops of timber or wood harvested every 5–20 years depending on the crop required.

We may also thin woodlands. This involves the removal of poor condition, diseased, or overcrowded trees to make the remaining trees stronger and healthier. Thinning is used to manage neglected woodland where dense shading has reduced the presence of woodland wildflowers. Thinning often takes place in newly planted woodlands to allow stronger trees to grow well by giving them more space in which to flourish.

Much of the wildlife within woodlands relies on active management to provide a varied habitat structure, from piles of dead wood which can be essential for certain beetles and fungi, to open glades that are home to some butterflies and other insect pollinators.

The most diverse woodlands typically have a range of different species and ages of tree. Without some form of active management woodlands may become dark internally resulting in little variation in structure, age, or species. Ultimately this reduces the amount of wildlife that can live in them. By managing woodlands sustainably, we are nurturing a habitat that is beneficial for trees, wildlife, and people.

Health and safety is also a high priority and woodlands are monitored through a series of tree inspections. Findings from these inspections enable us to act appropriately to safeguard trees from pests and diseases while maintaining a welcoming environment for human visitors.

When a tree is felled we consider the impact upon the woodland and will plant replacement trees where necessary. However, natural regeneration of local tree species is the preferred choice as nature gradually fills the gaps left behind.

This will be the first phase of ongoing management of the woodland at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and is a key part of the Our Picturesque Landscape conservation objectives.

Welcome Rangers

The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) once again experienced a busy summer holiday period with thousands of visitors wanting to experience this special part of Wales with all the wonderful things it has to offer.

Matthew Willars

With the easing of Covid restrictions and ever present threat of the virus for both residents and visitors alike the AONB team were pleased to received additional support from Welsh Government for extra countryside rangers who were deployed at beauty spots, including Loggerheads and Moel Famau country parks and Horseshoe Falls, to provide information, support for visitors and help deal with any issues on the ground.

Evie Challinor

This additional support has also assisted the AONB Team with their annual summer countryside code campaigns with particular emphasis given to:

  • Responsible dog owners to keep their dogs on leads especially around livestock
  • Plan ahead and have a plan B if things look busy
  • Park responsible and in designated areas
  • Bring picnics or shop locally rather than using disposable barbeques.

Imogen Hammond

Did you explore the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley this summer? Did you meet our new Rangers?

Remember to tag us on social media. FacebookInstagramTwitter

Cattle on Moel Famau

Managed in partnership with Natural Resources Wales and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ‘House for a Grouse’, named by local school children, is a 35-acre site located on Moel Famau. Previously a forested site, it was clear- felled in 2002/2003 and naturally allowed to revert back to heathland. Black Grouse are surveyed on this site during national annual surveys, the area forms part of the national monitoring of Black Grouse and is a key part of the core area of the Black Grouse Species Recovery Project. It also supports a typical assemblage of upland birds, reptiles and butterflies. Offa’s Dyke National Trail runs close along one side.

Since the site was clear felled manual clearance by staff and volunteers is carried out to remove conifer regeneration and mature heather, this being a very slow process. In 2018 ‘House for a Grouse’ became part of the Landscape Solutions for North East wales project that brings around 40 sites into sustainable management regimes by sharing resources and involving communities in the biodiversity and cultural benefits of the sites. Therefore, the project was able to provide the necessary infrastructure including, fencing, gates, improvements to access track and will also be providing a stock pen.

Working closely with a grazier, 5 Belted Galloway cattle have now been introduced to the site for the first time. Belted Galloway cattle are a traditional Scottish breed of cattle, originating from the Galloway in the west side of southern Scotland.

They are a heritage breed and are well adapted to living on the poor upland pastures and windswept moorlands of the region. The cattle will help manage the site by eating scrub and keeping the heather down.

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life