A Return to The Wild

After the last Ice Age, most of Wales was covered by forests – not an unbroken blanket of trees, but a complex, varied landscape with lakes, fens and open mountain summits. Over millennia, people have cleared Wales's forest for other land uses, creating a mostly open landscape, with little native forest cover. The Forest of Dreams is striving to create a unique reserve to let flourish the woodland and the other rare habitats that can be found there.

 As we move into 2018 there are areas of step mountain that have been left wild for 13 years. Trees are evident everywhere. Thousands. Knee deep heathers provide other habitat. Stands of birch expand, rowan spread in delicate lace like patterns perhaps not sen anywhere else in Britain, because of the rarity of totally natural regeneration. This is a unique project. In places the ship paths are gone and an impenetrable forest has taken over. Only the truly wild can go there!

On lower ground, ash, oak, willow, hazel, hawthorn, alder are spreading over the carpet of wild flowers each spring. A carpet that simply did not exist three years ago. The lower meadows were purchased and released from grazing seven years ago. It does not take nature long. A total absence of wildflower is replaced by the beginnings of the native carpet of primrose, celandine, violets and others. 

All that needs to happen in Welsh and British landscape is to remove the sheep that create a virtual desert without any diversity.

We are getting new photos up here soon to illustrate the dramatic return of the wild. All lovers of the original face of the land can be pleased and take some inspiration!

The 200 acre (on map) reserve is located within a beautiful valley starting from a                              
spectacular 40 metre waterfall (see right) at the head of the valley and following the river through a deep sided gorge (carved by the action and aftermath of the last Ice Age) emerging out into flowering meadows and wetland. The land includes a mixture of wild wooded gorges, sheltered meadows, heather and bilberry moor, ancient woodland, spectacular rockface and scree slopes, sylvan nooks, high waterfalls, rock-pools and streams. Two rivers flow through the land with some spectacular and breathtaking waterfalls.

Highlights are the creeping harebell and the wonderful setting of ancient woodland, wetland, rare lichens and tree fungi, and heather on steep slopes. Oak, ash, rowan and alder are just a few of the tree species that can be found here. The site supports a number of large trees beginning to develop the wildlife rich characteristics of veteran trees. In particular it supports some of the largest and oldest birch trees, on three of which have been found a lichen scarce in Wales. The range of wildflowers continues to increase - cuckoo-flower, devil's-bit scabious, speedwell, red campion.

The land is also home to Red Kite, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Owl, Badger, and many small mammals, birds and a myriad of insects. Signs that the Merlin, the rarest and smallest of the falcons, frequents the valley have also been found.

We hope that visitors to the valley and all who love the natural world , will welcome our attempt to let this beautiful valley be a wild place.
Our hope is that in time the valley will flower into a rich haven. And it is undeniable happening!
The land already had very established wooded areas, but there were lots of open hard grazed meadows and in some places barren hillside. The sheep were very good at preventing new growth! It will take many years for new trees, woodland and wildlife to mature and establish but since securing the first parcel of land, signs of new life and a return to the wild have already been seen. The sheep which once grazed the meadows and hillsides were relocated soon after the initial purchase, which has helped new growth. This became very apparent in 2011, when the meadows burst into golden carpets of buttercups in the spring time, a sight never seen when sheep were grazing. Since then, as each year passes, more and more new plants, trees and wildlife are being found all over the land.

An Update on Progress
 The valley is continuing to return to its original face, with more and more wild flowers creeping back into the valley:
New saplings are naturally setting and bursting through and victoriously growing stronger and taller as each year passes. 
New growth is now being seen on the once barren hillsides. 
Once solitary trees are now being surrounded by little saplings, which have naturally set. The Scots Pine which once stood alone now has over a dozen companions (see photo to the right taken in May 2013)

The photograph to the left (taken May 2013) shows the new beginnings of an ash grove, which has naturally taken root. As you walk through the valley, you have to watch your step so as not to step on the tiny little saplings including Birch, Oak, Scots Pine, Ash, Alder and Holly to name a few. There has been very little tree planting, with the new growth occurring naturally.

The charity and its supporters are overjoyed with the progress being seen.