Our Current Projects

Combining woodland management and being a timber merchant

Since 2006 we have worked hard to re-establish Ffynone and Cilgwyn woodland’s natural diversity. Our approach of thinning and felling is creating a more balanced landscape with a range of species and tree age diversity. We have also worked to increase and improve access for both visitors and forestry machines. And we are developing the timber merchant side of the business.

Timber Merchant

A return to ancient woodland species

Large parts of the woodlands are PAWs, and restoration of PAWS sites back to ancient woodland species is a UK-wide priority. We are participating in a long-term research project with Forest Research as part of this. They will monitor the gradual process over generations. 

There are both challenges and opportunities in the gradual removal of the current canopy of conifers and its re-establishment as broadleaf woodland. One challenge is the lack of firm data on best practice, and so we employ a variety of approaches and observe the outcomes.

We allow natural regeneration to create a more diverse species mix in some areas. In other areas we have under planted to shift the species balance towards desired outcomes. 

The benefits for us as a timber merchant – and for our customers

We are thinning at regular intervals in parts of the woods where the crop is predominately Douglas Fir. We then use this in the sawmill. The advantage of this for us as a timber merchant is that we can search the woodland to match timber orders, finding the right trees for specific projects. This allows us to fulfil orders other timber merchants may find difficult or impossible.

Because the sawmill is within the woodland, our products are low input. Also, thinning the woods slowly and sensitively means we are always operating under our sustainable yield. (E.g. the wood grows faster than we cut it down). Which means if you’re looking for a sustainable local timber merchant we are happy to help.

And because we are a not-for-profit, proceeds from the timber merchant and other business avenues are put back into the woodland.

Timber Merchant

Community engagement

The Cyd Coed grant was to run a community project for 20 years, which we have developed with multiple strands. We prioritise buying local to help the local economy.

It’s also important for us to train and employ workers in a wide variety of forestry skills. These skills are needed for working in our timber merchant business and woodlands. We often have opportunities, so if you’re looking for a job check out our opportunities or send us your CV.

We have previously run open days, informational walks and talks. Local people are encouraged to participate and develop sustainable projects within the space, alongside the co-operative’s timber endeavours, to produce a sustainable enterprise.

Local people are encouraged to participate

Increasing the number of walkers and visitors

We have greatly increased public access around the woods, including new car park spaces and a levelled entrance to make it more suitable for less able visitors. There are now also a number of resting benches at regular intervals.

Additonally, a number of new trackways link existing paths, which has created a variety of walks of different difficulties. There are literally miles of tracks to explore that connect the woods on circular routes. We have also created a walking bypass around the sawmill, to keep walkers safe by avoiding the timber merchant area of the woodlands. 

Horse riders

The 325 acres of woodland are ideal for horse riders to have undisturbed rides due to minimal vehicle use within the woods. We work with local riders to support this activity and help to ensure all bridleways through the woods are open and safe. (Contact BHS for local links).

There are additional car parking spaces suitable for horseboxes away from the main car park. Please contact the British Horse Society for more information.

Mountain bikers

Our woodland has attracted a keen local group of downhill bikers due to the rugged terrain with downhill stretches. We are working to support them to develop trails for all ages and skill levels in the area near the council road and main car park. This is the opposite side of the wood from the timber merchant sawmill [see map].

You can find more information on our Facebook page.

Other community groups

There are also a range of partner organisations that use the woodland space for one-off and ongoing programmes. This includes ecology walks with Growing Better Connections and a partnership with the health promotion group Reconnect in Nature.

We are supporting them to develop a site to train Wellbeing in Nature facilitators. This will help people who would benefit from the regenerative and life affirming experience of being in the woods. The training has been devised with Coed Lleol and Public Health Wales.

Picture: Julian McKenny

A recent performance by arts group Maynard, Abercych.

Arts events and gatherings

We are also developing an area to support local artists, musicians, and creative curators to host events in a natural amphitheatre space in the woods.

The woods offer a beautiful backdrop for arts events and performances.

Edible Edges Project

Edible Edges Project

Site allocation survey

Planning / mapping

Plant propagation

Plant propagation

We’ve created forest garden areas and edible landscapes along some of the track’s edges as part of a Community Engagement Project. They are planted with fruit bushes and trees, herbs and other useful & edible plants, suitable for the lower canopy and glades of a continuous cover woodland.

Our timber merchant sawmill has contributed woodchip and provided logs to build the huge beds. It has also provided slabwood sawmill offcuts to keep the structure of the beds and provide a bench.

The community are encouraged to collect edible items from the gardens and help with weeding and ongoing maintenance of these spaces. If you’d like to get involved in this project, please contact info@growingheart.co.uk.

Site allocation survey

Planning / mapping

Plant propagation

Plant propagation

Diggerwork/ tree shearing

Staking of planting site

Preparing the planting areas

Planting with the public

Income and livelihood creation

Forestry operations are the driving force behind this project. This is how we transform the woodland environment and fund most other operations.

Our aim is to supply timber merchant products including firewood, woodchip and a whole range of sawn timber products to the community as locally as possible. The profits are returned back into the co-operative to fund new ventures.