Talgarth Community Woodland Group is made up of local residents of Talgarth and the surrounding area. The group is made up of a cross section of the community, including all ages and gender. Membership is open to anyone who wishes to attend meetings. We are a community led organisation supported by the Green Valleys Community Interest Company. The woodland is a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site PAWS and as such is sensitive to ground disturbance. This means that lower impact methods for tree removal are favoured rather than using large forestry equipment. The Woodland Trust promotes best practice in the restoration of PAWS sites and seeks to use lower impact methods wherever suitable, particularly in sensitive areas. This more careful work is less cost effective but does allow a skilled community group to becoming engaged in the process rather than reliance on mechanized contractors. The Woodland Trust requires high standards of all contractors and this includes community groups. To enable lower impact methods to be used, recognized certificates of competence for community group members are required. Larger timber will need to be moved into place to allow extraction by heavy horse. This can only safely be done by a forestry winch.
The project aim is to begin restoration of part of the PAWS site through the felling and removal of Beech as directed by the Park Wood management plan. Trees will be selected and felled, then winched to a set location, where they can be collected by a working heavy horse and dragged to a suitable location for processing and extraction. These methods are used to limit ground disturbance and cope with the steep slopes and are required for areas with very limited vehicular access. The project requires skilled labour in the form of chainsaw operators (already within the group), winch operators, preparation of access routes and the skilled horse handler (contracted in). In addition, the horse logging sessions will be of interest as a demonstration for other community woodland groups, private owners undertaking PAWS restoration and local horse owners, interested in seeing the horses.
The project aims to deliver elements of the Park Wood management plan, specifically contribute towards the restoration of native mixed broadleaved woodland on a conifer plantation. This is a significant challenge across Wales and this project aims to be a demonstration of lower impact, community centred methods. Use of heavy horse and hand winch reduces fossil fuel inputs when compared to mechanized methods.
In 2019 the woodland group changed status to a Community Benefit Society. Supported and promoted by the ‘The Green Valleys CiC’, this gives the group a secure platform to raise money and sell it’s products. The benefit of creating a local, sustainable wood fuel supply has direct impact to the local economy and lifestyle choices of it’s inhabitants.
Shaun, Woodland group member
“The wood we extract from Park Wood provides enough energy to both heat and supply hot water to our home. We are no longer reliant on fossil fuels. Although relatively small, this is an important contribution to changing the way we treat our planet. The manner in which the trees are felled and processed is sensitive to the woodland environment, promoting a sustainable fuel supply whilst conserving the woodland’s ecosystem. For my children it is a part of life and an ethos I hope they will take into adulthood.”