The first residential of the new semester was working at the Centre for Alternative Technology, just past Machynlleth – a first for ACV thanks to Alex.
On first arriving, Grace, one of the biologists at C.A.T, gave us a guided tour around the areas we would be working in, showing us what she wanted us to achieve and teaching us so much about the different types of trees around us! Then – of course – we got down to the serious business of tea drinking, before starting on thinning out one compartment of woodland, which was so dense we could barely see each other. We were given instructions to have fifteen foot centres, which meant your centre tree should have a fifteen foot diameter of space around it to ensure the trees, specifically oaks, were given the best environment by providing more light and space and taking away their bigger competition. So began the relentless axing, chopping and pruning!! Once felled, we were snedding (stripping the side shoots and branches off the tree with a billhook) and moving the trees to the road. Tired and covered in tree sap, we retreated to a homely youth hostel in Corris.
Refreshed, we continued our assault on the section of woodlands we’d began working on, on Saturday but this time with the help of Rob, from C.A.T, and his friend Johan. We also branched out (sorry) into coppicing birch trees to make fascines, rough birch brash bundling, which we used to cover boggy, muddy tracks to create beautiful, bouncy paths!!
Among the day’s events Nelis felled a 30ft Western Hemlock, which turned out to only be eight years old!! This goes to prove our work that weekend was extremely beneficial as Western Hemlocks are not native to the British Isles and quite easily outcompete our own trees.