Update on the Commemorative Woodland at Brownhill

Update on Commemorative woodland at Brownhill 

Following on from my previous correspondence on 22 June, I am writing to provide you with an update on the plans for the commemorative woodland at Brownhill, in the Tywi Valley Carmarthenshire.

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us through our public consultation and drop in events in March and June last year. We were pleased to be able to engage with so many residents and have the opportunity to listen to people’s views and concerns on the proposals for the land at Brownhill. 

Having listened carefully to the feedback we received, we are pleased to be able to share the designs for the site and inform you of our next steps.

The site has now been divided in to three main areas, each prioritising different objectives;  a conservation space for wildlife to flourish, a woodland space for commemoration that is fully accessible, and a growing space to provide sustainable opportunities for continued food production, trees, and nature.

We have set out a summary of our plans below, outlining how we will deliver the objectives for each area, taking in to consideration the responses we received through our consultation:

Area one – Conservation space 

Main objectives 

Our main objectives for the conservation space are to improve access points to ensure the public and local anglers can safely access the river and create riparian and wet woodland to help benefit biodiversity and promote a healthy active floodplain. 

How we will achieve this: 

Our initial plans for this area of the site will require minimal intervention. It will be allowed to develop in to riparian woodland to allow for natural processes, as has been the case for the last ten years.  We will improve public access by restoring a footbridge and establishing an informal walking route that will allow people and anglers to safely access the riverside and enjoy the wildlife. Signage will be installed to provide information to people on how they can use the area safely and help care for the area. In time, we will also be exploring opportunities to undertake river restoration work in this area to naturalize the previously canalised section of the river to improve habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Full details, including maps and drawings of the conservation space can be viewed via our Citizen Space project page from 19 January.

Area two – Woodland space

Main objectives 

Our main objective for the woodland space is to create a native broadleaf woodland that maximises habitat diversity and provides a contemplative green space where people can come to reflect and remember loved ones.

How we will achieve this:

The woodland has been designed to enhance the existing features of the site and wewill retain substantial open space to provide important open habitat. To ensure the new woodland is resilient to the threats of pests and diseases and climate change, we will plant a broad range of species and shrubs, including Oak, Hornbeam, Small leaved lime, Hazel and Crab apples. 

To help improve public access and ensure the safety of visitors to the site, a car park will be constructed, existing field entrances will be upgraded, and small footbridges will be installed, allowing us to create circular walks around the area. 

Benches will also be placed near the entrance and fruit and nut trees will be planted to create a blossoming feature in the spring and provide fruit for visitors and the community to pick. We have also been keen to find a fitting  name for the commemorative woodland. Given that the land formed part of the adjacent  Abermarlais estate and is bisected by the Afon Marlais,  the woodland itself will be named  Coedwig Abermarlais.

Full details, including maps and drawings of the conservation space can be viewed via our Citizen Space project page from 19 January.

Area three – Growing space 

Main objectives 

Our main objective for the growing space was to establish a partnership to allow us to provide sustainable opportunities to grow food, trees and nature and improve water quality, soil health and habitat and species diversity.

How we will achieve this:

We presented a number of options for increasing tree cover alongside continued agricultural production and asked consultees to discuss the various merits of these which they would most like to see. The suggestion of continuing agricultural production alongside increased tree cover was well received.

The plan for this area is to increase the tree cover to around 20%.  We will do this by widening the existing hedgerows and re-establishing hedgerows along historic field boundaries that have been lost. We will also plant along the field edge adjacent to the existing woodland and establish groups of in-field trees that will in future create a wood pasture type habitat.  The new planting will be fenced to allow the continued grazing of the majority of the land, and the land will be managed in line with prescriptions to benefit wildlife, soil health and water quality.

In the longer term, we will seek to establish a partnership for the long-term management of this area in conjunction with a local farm business/businesses.  This will include further co-design of the area with the potential for further planting or other cropping uses for the improved grassland that were raised during the consultation.

Full details, including maps and drawings of the conservation space can be viewed via our Citizen Space project page from 19 January.

Next steps 

When creating new woodland, we place particular importance on working closely with local communities and stakeholders to provide them with the opportunity to be involved with the plans and share their ideas with us. We are keen to continue this proactive engagement at Brownhill as the site progresses. 

In the near future, we will create opportunities for volunteers to help us prepare and plant trees on the site. We will keep you updated about the dates and timings of these in due course.

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