Restoring an ancient woodland

Blaenau Gwent LNP

Sirhowy Hill Community Woodland is a Community Interest Company run by volunteers. They manage an 85ha post-industrial greenspace near Tredegar. Local Places for Nature (LPfN) funding has helped to build the capacity of the organisation to be able to restore the habitats on the site and in the wider landscape through the provision of equipment and training, and funding practical works on site.

Challenging environment

The site was originally an ancient woodland with some grasslands and orchards, which had sadly fallen into neglect. The site is very steep in places and also prone to becoming waterlogged, which proved challenging. The LPfN funding allowed the group to pay for forestry equipment, including an alpine tractor, and training to manage the woodland. They have also been able to restore grasslands through the reduction of scrub. Habitat improvements were carried out during the winter. This has opened up glades and removed invasive non-native species to enable a wider diversity of species to establish themselves, allowing the ecosystem to become more resilient.

A new community asset

Through this project the group has learned the right techniques to manage the land and allow it to be maintained by volunteers over the long term. The project was promoted on social media, and local groups were invited to visit and help to maintain the habitat. This has increased access to nature for the surrounding community, and the forest is now well used by walkers.

Susy Arnold, director of Sirhowy Hill Woodlands, said: “The funding and support we have received for the purchase of forestry equipment and training has made an amazing difference to us and to our capacity to better manage and restore our community woodlands”.

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