Rewilding plan – just do nothing

If you know the Cambrian Mountains you’ll probably agree that they could do with a few more trees. I spent the last weekend, but one, there and its big views and dramatic sunsets are inspiring, but it’s a landscape that could do with some TLC.

So, a plan to rewild one hillside just south of Machynlleth sounds interesting, and turn out to be something of a blueprint for the future of the more marginal bits of upland Wales.

For it to happen the charities involved (Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust, and the Wales Wild Land Foundation) need to raise £150,000 by the end of this month. They already have £200,000, but need to find another £150,000.oak seedling

If it works out the land – 142ha (352 acres) of it – will be the first step towards a grand plan to restore the area’s native woodland.

The land has been on the market for a number of years and  hasn’t been grazed. In the absence of livestock natural regeneration is already happening. The plan is to sit back and let that process continue.

Eventually it’s thought that around a third of Cefn Coch will become open woodland. The mix of oak, birch and rowan should be just the thing for a range of birds and animals, including pine martens.

Find out more about the project on the Cefn Coch page on the Woodland Trust website.

Learning to live with ash die-back

At first I told myself that I was adding two and two to make five, or 555. Perhaps the withered leaves and greying bark were just a reaction to a run of dry days.

Now though, it’s official – I have the dreaded Chalara fraxinea, or ash die-back. Or at least, my trees have.

The ash trees in the hedges around my Pembrokeshire garden nearly all now show the symptoms of the lethal fungal infection and the diagnosis has been confirmed by the Forestry Commission’s Tree Alert service.

chalara
 

It is a depressing prospect. The spread of the disease is unstoppable and it promises a transformation of landscapes to rival the one that came in the 1970s with Dutch Elm Disease. In the long-term there’s a hope that some ashes will show a resistance to Chalara, but by then the vast majority will be decaying and dead.

There’s nothing I can do about my hedges except to start thinking about what will happen when the ashes are dead and gone. So, this autumn is going to be about gathering tree seed (acorns, hazelnuts and sycamore ‘helicopters’) and starting my own back-garden tree nursery.

*The Tree Council has been running an annual Seed Gathering Sunday for years and it has now become Seed Gathering Season. This year it begins on September 23 and runs until October 23. More info here.