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Ancient horse-logging used at Millwood Forest on Gower

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has used an ancient forestry skill to thin a sensitive area of forest in Gower, Swansea.

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Gower horse-logging

A horse-logging team has been used in a mixed ancient semi-natural woodland to fell and extract pre-selected beech trees from Millwood Forest.

Horse-logging has much less of an impact on the sensitive broadleaf woodland soils than modern day felling methods using heavy machinery. Horse-logging does not compact the forest soils and after a short time the soil and woodland wildflowers can quickly recover, which aids the natural regeneration of tree seeds, which helps the regeneration of natural woodland trees and woodland wildflowers.

NRW manages Millwood as a working woodland and is restoring it, over several stages, to native broadleaf woodland in accordance with the Gower and Penllergaer Forest Resource Plan (FRP).

The purpose of the beech thinning operation was to remove pre-selected non-native beech trees. This will restore the woodland back to a more natural tree-species composition and allow more light to reach the woodland floor. The removal of some beech trees will provide more light which will help the planted native oak trees to thrive, assist the natural regeneration of other broadleaf tree species, as well as allow woodland wildflowers to increase.

Hannah Shaw, Forest Operations Officer, NRW, said: “Millwood is a sensitive woodland with multiple constraints which require careful consideration when undertaking operational work. It is well-used by the public, has delicate soils and supports protected species, including a population of great crested newts.

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“Working horses are ideally suited to environmentally sensitive areas where mechanical extraction is not possible. They are a low impact and sympathetic tool particularly when it comes to the management of ancient woodlands.”

“Because of the sensitive nature of Millwood, the ancient art of horse-logging was the most sustainable and ecologically-sensitive option for this thinning operation.”

(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)

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