June 17, 2024

College students help landowner bring ‘missing’ Welsh woodland back to life

A MISSING Welsh woodland was brought back to life by Coleg Cambria students.

Learners on the college’s Tilhill Forestry Diploma, based at Llysfasi, helped landowner Tim Kirk resurrect 12 hectares of derelict woodland near Ruthin.

Tim – a Chartered Forester who has spent more than five decades in the sector – bought the Wern Goed site via an advert in a trade magazine and faced numerous obstacles in bringing it back to its former glory after years of neglect.

As the Forestry students are always keen to learn and develop their skills – including chainsaw operation – and gain experience of different types of woodland, the project benefited both parties.

Forestry lecturer Andy White said: “We have around 70 hectares of woodland at Llysfasi but still need access to different types, sizes and ages of woodland for training in different situations.

“A call with John Ferguson, a Tilhill Manager, put us in touch with Tim and sparked a plan to help restore an undermanaged woodland on our doorstep – we jumped at the chance.”

He added: “The woodland had little work done on it in the last few years, with fallen trees everywhere blocking the tracks and drains, burying fences, and making access extremely difficult.

“The lack of management meant the loss of good quality timber, but also that of the woodland as a resource for local people to use and enjoy.

“As a result of the students’ hard work, the paths and tracks are now passable, allowing access for the next phase of work, and the boundaries have been repaired, allowing the neighbouring farms’ livestock back into the fields.

“Hopefully, this will be an ongoing partnership between owners of small-scale woodlands and the college, providing excellent training opportunities for the students of the future and helping reverse the decline of these often small, undervalued, and under-worked woodlands, for the benefit of all.”

Tim thanked the learners for coming to the rescue and believes without their assistance the woodland would still be in a terrible condition.

“The stream was dammed to produce a succession of ponds, which are now suffering from silting, and the old footpaths were totally overgrown,” he said.

“Thanks to the excellent training programme between Coleg Cambria Llysfasi and Tilhill, students were given an excellent opportunity to hone their skills and exercise their muscles to clear the tracks and one fence line.

“It was brilliant work from them over several visits and hopefully there’s more to come in the future – thank you.”

For more on the Diploma in Forestry and Woodland Management at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, and the college’s partnership with Tilhill, visit: www.cambria.ac.uk/llysfasi/employers/tilhill/