The Wild Wood
Above and below left: Volunteers passionate about restoring areas of native broad leaf woodland to Wales work in all weathers. Many people get an enormous sense of achievement from planting trees.
Through volunteer planting days open to the whole community, and with the help of WWOOF volunteers hosted at Blaeneinion, work has started on planting around 50 acres of woodland. Thank you!!! to all our volunteers this winter :)
Over the winters of 2009 - 2012/13 we have planted around 24,000 native trees over 24 acres of land.
Because the environment here is wet and many areas have poor soil, we have planted many 'pioneer' species including, Birch, Ash and Rowan. Aspen, Willow, Black Poplar and Alder enjoy the wetter areas, and in more free- draining sites we have planted varieties including Sessile Oak, Hawthorn, Crab Apple, Wild Cherry, Elder, Hazel, Crab Apple and Walnut. Above: From little acorns.....
Above: A modest but passionate start - an enthusiastic group from the local community planted 500 saplings in our first winter (2008). Many of these trees were lovingly relocated from peoples gardens or rescued from the threat of strimming and brought to site in pots, carrier bags and buckets! ........ 3 years later, they are flourishing, and radiate the care of those who planted them!
Blaeneinion gratefully receives a grant from the Forestry Commission in Wales to fund the tree planting. Without this help, it would not be possible for us to do this work as saplings, canes and spirals require considerable investment.
Left: Elijah puts in a cane - this will support the young sapling in windy weather, and a plastic spiral is then placed around the young tree to protect it from hungry voles and rabbits.
Right: A 3 year old birch sapling full of vitality!
The grant allows for wages to pay contractors to plant the saplings, but using funds in this way we would be limited to buying in much smaller and cheaper trees that struggle to compete with the native molinia grass and bracken. They are quickly planted en mass, and take a while to establish, with many losses.
In our second year of the grant, we realised that if we welcomed enthusiastic residential volunteers on site to help with planting, despite the cost of accommodation and food (and energy cooking sumptuous lunches every day!), we could 'save' some money to invest back into and improve the planting schemes. The volunteers enjoy a working holiday in great company learning new skills .. and come away feeling that they have helped to initiate something worthwhile that will bear fruit for hundreds of years to come...... many already have plans to return with their children in 10 years' time!
In addition, we can now select more interesting species and work with trees that are much bigger and require more care and time to plant - but we think it is well worth it! - why not come and see how they are doing?
Below: Planting plan for 2800 native trees that were planted between 15th Jan and 3rd Feb 2012
In the winter of 2011/12 the planting scheme for the 7 acre pasture area incorporated many more edible species including walnut and chestnut, elder, wild pear, wild cherry and plum. We hope to create wildlife corridors throughout the wild wood by providing abundant fruit and seeds for animals, birds and people to feed on :)
In the winter of 2010/11 we established an orchard of 90 fruit and nut varieties which will mature into a productive forest garden over the coming years. (see Robert Harts books for more information on Agroforestry or 'Forest Gardening') This coming winter (2013/14) the second 'storey' or layer of plants will be added to build up the 'guilds' of plants to create an edible and medicinal ecosystem. This system will mimic natural systems and have the diversity and stability to be very productive and withstand many of the problems faced by using monoculture growing schemes. The soft fruit for the next layer has been propogated from our original plants at 'Plot 21', 12 years ago!
The 5 metre wide rides (which will narrow as the trees grow) are lined with edible fruiting and nut species.
Other native species will provide timber for fuel, building materials, furniture making, sap for wine production and much more in years to come.
Wildlife species will proliferate with such an improved habitat.
Above: The second 'Compartment' planted in the Winter of 2011/2012 - please feel free to use these ideas if you wish.
Above is a photo taken in early Spring of 2013 of some of that winters' planting. 6000 large and healthy saplings, locally sourced will develop into an abundant woodland with rides lined by edible species.
To find out more about our Community Open Days or to apply for a residential volunteering placement click here