Before Christmas, staff and volunteers from the Mid-Wales reserves team got together at Ynys-hir to help with a couple of days of bog management. So, on Friday the 17th February, the team repaid the favour and travelled down to Gwenffrwd-Dinas near Llandovery to help the wardens there with some woodland management.

Ynys-hir in November

It was forecast to be a beautiful day, and though it started off a little cool it soon warmed up and most were down to t-shirts. We were working on a wooded slope that had been planted about 30 years ago for the RSPB’s Centenary. The wardens had spent a lot of time thinning the young woodland to allow other trees to expand and develop more naturally. However, this work creates a lot of brash (branches, twigs etc.) which if left on the woodland floor will smother the ground flora.

Gwenffrwd-Dinas, view down valley

That’s where the Mid-Wales Work Party came in. In total, there were 13 staff and volunteers sweating away moving the brash into smaller areas. We were told to reduce the footprint of the brash and therefore keep as much of the ground open. Larger logs were piled up ready for collection. The most eagerly anticipated element of these work parties is of course the cake! This time, some Marble Cake and cookies by one of the wardens went down a treat, but also put pressure on for Monday’s work party.

Gwenffrwd-Dinas, woodland management

Here at Lake Vyrnwy were had invited the work party to join us to remove conifers from the moorland. These self-sown conifers spread across the moorland and puts the dry heath habitat, a SSSI feature, in unfavourable condition. Therefore, we try and remove as many as possible each winter, which given the size of the reserve seems to be a never-ending task.

Lake Vyrnwy, view towards Rhiwargor waterfall

On Monday, 18th February, we had a group of 9 staff and volunteer roaming the moorland felling conifers, some of which were about 30 years old. Unfortunately, the weather had turned over the weekend and we found ourselves working in a stiff wind, showers and cold temperatures. This didn’t dampen our spirits and we managed to remove at least 350 conifers over an area of about 10 hectares. I oversaw the baking this time and served up Malteser traybake and a Chocolate sponge cake which kept people’s energy levels up, though we appeared to lose half the traybake to cheeky ravens while we were working.

Lake Vyrnwy, moorland management

These Mid-Wales Work Parties have been extremely productive and enjoyable events that we hope to continue and expand on. It’s a great opportunity to see different reserves, talk to other staff and volunteers and perhaps most importantly discuss and learn from others to take back to our own reserves.

Gavin Chambers, Warden

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