A step back in time could be the way forward

Man standing next to two horses

Natural Resources Wales Land Management Team have turned back the clock by using traditional forestry skills to thin an area of sensitive woodland in south east Wales.

In Gwern Ddu woodland, near Rudry, red cedar and Norway spruce trees have been felled around mature ash trees to improve light levels and increase natural regeneration rates of broadleaf species.

As a PAWS (Planted Ancient Woodland Sites) woodland this work will help to restore it while improving the natural environment.

Three Ardenne horses from Rowan Working Horses, Monmouth were employed to fell and extract the trees identified for removal. The trees were felled by hand and the horses moved the whole tree length to an open area where they could be cross cut into smaller sizes. This timber was then taken to a stacking area by a horse drawn forwarder.

In the four days the three horses hauled a total of 47 tonnes of timber, providing logs for a local sawmill and wood for the biomass plant in Baglan.

Jonathan Singleton, Planning Surveyor, Natural Resources Wales said:

“This ancient art of logging is a low impact, environmentally sensitive method of timber extraction and ideal for managing dense woodland.

“The horses were corralled overnight in the woods and their gentle tramping over ground will aid natural regeneration as well as protecting biodiversity and environmentally sensitive areas, including an active badger sett in the area.

“If we had used normal forest machinery we would have had to build a new track through the area, with the risk of damage and erosion which would have impacted regrowth and regeneration for some time. The horse was able to work the site using existing infrastructure which was a good result for this difficult and sensitive area.

“It was a magical experience and a wonderful opportunity to experience a horse’s traditional role on the land.”


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