Llwybr Coed Bron Haul – Bron Haul Woodland Footpath

Using the Footpath


Wildlife is returning to Bron Haul. As we allow the landscape to increase in complexity so the opportunities for biodiversity bloom. We want these developing ecosystems to belong to wildlife first!

For many people, dog walking is the motivator for walking in the countryside. However, dogs are predators. A beloved pet’s charming forays into the undergrowth disturb wildlife. In fact, the Wildlife Trust has done research showing that merely the presence of a dog in the landscape is unsettling for our native species and as the UK’s dog population has almost doubled in the last 10 years to around 13 million, many reserves are now finding they need to  restrict access to their sites for dogs.

Please keep your dog on a lead, remove dog mess and keep to the footpaths. If you are treating your pet with biocides (products that kill ticks/fleas/worms etc) we would be grateful if you did not bring them on this land.

Thank you for helping us make room for nature.

Coed Cae Gwair - Hayfield Woods

Shrubby woodland edge from the hayfield April 2022

This woodland block surrounds the North edge of the species-rich meadow that we cut once a year for hay. Shrubby species on the field boundary create a gentle transition from grassland to woodland canopy and include fruiting and flowering species to benefit insects and birds.

This block has been thinned for the third time since it was planted over winter 2021/22. We chose our best trees (marked with paint) and removed their competitors. These will grow vigorously and having had their lower branches pruned off, are on their way to becoming valuable hardwood timber trees to contribute to a local circular economy. Now we just need to build an economy that values its local resources!

For now, most of the timber we are removing is only firewood quality – the lowest grade of timber and the product that the most poorly managed woodland can produce in volume! However, even in this young woodland we are pushing to generate higher quality products from our thinnings. We are cleaving the sweet chestnut to make fence posts, which now fulfil the farm’s requirements with plenty to sell on. We are experimenting with planking the largest stems with the help of the small sawmill at Elwy Wood a mile up the road. See what we have on offer so far!

Squirrel damaged beech

Apart from the thinning and pruning, the reason why this woodland is showing such promise in hardwood production is our rigorous grey squirrel control. You may notice from here some of the beech trees showing historic squirrel damage. We retain these trees as a demonstration of what the whole woodland would look like if we did not control greys – young deformed trees full of rot that will neither become the carbon-capturing, plastic-displacing basis for a sustainable economy, nor replacements for the magnificent wildlife hotel of a veteran tree above you. Find out more about the grey squirrel problem and landscape scale attempts to solve it on the UK Squirrel Accord website.

What's Going On?

November 2023 As a Farming Connect Best Practice Farm, we chatted with Forestry Specialist Geraint Jones about how trees benefit the livestock, nature and the local economy at Bron Haul Farm. Episode 88 – Woodland management and adding value to timber at Bron Haul  This was followed up with a farm visit. Thanks Geraint for organising this opportunity to share our excitement for how our woodland project is developing with other farmers and helping us to put a positive light on integrating more trees into agriculture.

October 2023 Our woodland was used as a training site for Sam Webber‘s Felling trees below 38mm chainsaw course. It was great to contribute to the learning of new chainsaw operators.

Sept 2023 We took off to the first ever agroforestry show, organised by the Woodland Trust and the Soil Association. Thanks for having us both along as panel contributors! David explored The Case For Trees on Farms whilst Ruth was talking on Hedges, Edges and Farmland Trees.

The North Wales Division of the Royal Forestry Society made it over for an explore of our woodland’s progress and an in depth chat on silviculture. Thanks so much to Llysfasi college for bringing your brilliant students along! They made the day so much more vibrant and meaningful.

Andy White from Llysfasi college with some of his students. Photo Les Starling.

August 2023 The cows performed brilliantly, looking delighted in their hedge and woodland surrounded fields, for the Nature Friendly Farming Network farm visit discussing the benefits of trees on farms. As well as the great shelter and forage from the woody woodland edges, we showed off our growing list of timber products and marvelled at the birdsong!

July 2023 If you follow the footpath under the transmission pylons, you will notice that the trees to your left have been cut. This is the work of our very welcome coppice worker, Mike Church, who will be using the materials for products and courses. Why not join his Sussex Trug course this September at the Woodland Skills Centre (Bodfari) and make your own truly local, sustainable and wonderfully functional basket.

Sussex Trug Students with Mike at the Woodland Skills Centre

May 2023 Such an amazing time of year to be in woodland. Why not take a moment to sit and enjoy the rich variety of bird song in this woodland with the help of the Merlin Bird Id app. A really easy bird call to pick out this time of year is the Chiffchaff. Tune in and listen to how many you can hear throughout the woodland!

March 2023 Following a thorough thin in winter 2021-22 we were hoping that this woodland block would be showing strong regeneration by now. The light hitting the woodland floor is intended to allow a new generation of trees to start their growth, as seedlings, suckers and coppice shoots create a dense understorey for supporting more wildlife and diversifying the age-range of our trees. Unfortunately, we had a sheep push its way in and although it is out now, it enjoyed chewing much of summer 2022’s growth. With the fencing fixed, we hope 2023 will allow a second chance at our woodland’s recovery.

On a more positive note, this fencing frenzy prompted me to finally improve the stile at the Northern boundary. Apologies for the delay. Please! do not cut wire. This weakens the fence and reduces its life and effectiveness. Fencing is really hard work!

July 2022 You are currently standing in one of the best managed small woodlands in the country! We are delighted to have won the Gold medal in this year’s Royal Forestry Society Excellence in Forestry award, contested across Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and England.

RFS Chair Sir James Scott , EIF judge Bryan Elliot, FSC sponsor Owen Davies and Us!

July 2022 Look out! BBC and wider media will be celebrating the successful progress of the UK Squirrel Accord fertility control research. For a full update, sign up for their webinar on 13th July 10-12.

June 2022 Bangor University MSc student Tom Gosling has been using this woodland block as one of 7 case studies in his dissertation looking at the benefits different sorts of woodland could offer if given support under future Welsh Government woodland creation scheme.

June 2022 Phew! we’ve finished extracting the sweet chestnut (for fence posts), saw logs and larger diameter firewood from last winter’s thinning operation here.

May 2022 – visited by judges in the Royal Forestry Society’s Excellence in Forestry award covering Wales, England and Northern Ireland. We are in the Small and Farm Woodland category. It was great to have their advice and observations on our woodland. Fingers crossed for the results in July!

May 2022 – hosting a visit from Natural Resources Wales to demonstrate establishing and managing healthy, productive, biodiverse native woodland.

April 2022 – Pied fly-catchers nesing. Only one swallows nest this year. Very worried about this species.

April 2022 – Three beautiful Aberdeen angus calves arrive to beautiful sunshine and content mothers grazing species rich grassland.

March – finished the winter’s felling and stacked most of the large firewood quality thinnings at roadside for transport to Bodfari Environmental.

Winter 2021/22 – Our winter felling focussed on the hayfield woodland. We suffered some windblow during storm Anwen in November. We think we are seeing goshawks. Our Forestry Roots trainee, Dylan Hardy, completes his chainsaw qualifications and becomes an asset in our woodland.

September 2021 – We received our Gold Medal for the quality of our Small and Farm Woodland management in the RFS Excellence in Forestry competition. Hurrah!

August 2021 – Dylan Hardy joins us for a year’s placement through the Royal Forestry Society ‘Forestry Roots’ programme.

July 2021 – We welcomed judges from the Royal Forestry Society’s Excellence in Forestry competition (Wales, Northern Ireland and Isle of Man) where we are entered in the Small and Farm Woodland category.

July 2021 – We welcomed judges from the Royal Welsh Show Forestry competition (North Wales) where we are entered in the Broadleaf Woodland over 15 hectares category.

April to July 2021 – This woodland is vulnerable to bark stripping by grey squirrels. A successful season of squirrel control has protected our tree health and timber potential. 

Who's Seen What?

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