Volunteers cleaning up Cath Cobb Woods, taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan

Volunteers are needed to protect ancient woodlands in St Mellons

Could you be a ‘key champion’ to help look after beauty spots like Cath Cobb woods?

VOLUNTEERS are needed to help protect and maintain the woods and habitats of St Mellons.

The Parks and Rangers team wants to get people involved in the greenery of the area and has issued a call-out for volunteers.

There are hopes for “people [who] really want to get out there, and they care about their green spaces and their local spaces” says Community Park Ranger Rhodri Hughes.

There are a few sites in St Mellons being looked at:

1.            Cath Cobb Woodlands

2.            Hendre Lake

3.            Industrial Park Pond

4.            Beech Tree Park and Pond

5.            Harrison Drive

A volunteer cutting down the felled tree branches to make wooden stakes. Taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan

There are lots of things in each area which need doing, such as hay raking, surveying and monitoring, woodland management, vegetation management and creating habitat and refuge areas and coppicing.

If that sounds like a lot, volunteers will not be alone. The project is being managed by Community Park Rangers Rhodri Hughes and Jo Murphy, either of whom will be there for ranger-led sessions.

Rhodri said that many kinds of volunteers will be welcome, especially “to be with like minded people who are passionate about conservation”. Also welcome, he said, were those who “are desperate to do some litter-picking and make their place look great”.

But it does not matter if you have specialist knowledge or not, he added. “The best education is getting volunteers, kids, anyone out into the parks and showing them firsthand”.

Rhodri Hughes (left) with a fellow volunteer. Taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan

Educating people directly can help to clear the air about conservation. One such area that is often misunderstood is coppicing. “To the naked eye it seems like we’re cutting down trees”, says Rhodri. However, if done properly “it’s a renewable and sustainable practice”.

“Over a seven-year period, you’ve got an unlimited supply of wood”.

An example of a Coppice. Taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan

He continued: “Coppicing has been done since before the Romans came to Britain. It’s an ancient practice.

“Every woodland in the UK would have had a coppice in it at some point.”

It is no secret that climate change has had an impact on the environment. Wales is one of the most nature depleted countries of the planet and 1 in 6 specifies are at risk of extinction, so things are looking quite dire.

There are fewer staff members in the parks department then there used to be, as well as budget issues, and a rise in invasive species in the area, according to the Cardiff Community Park Ranger Team.

Rhodri is keen on forming a ‘Friends of’ group. A ‘Friends of’ group has a proper constitution and committee members. Namely a chair, secretary, and treasurer. It also lets the group be “introduced to the Friends network and they have access to grant funding.”

Successful friends groups exist, such as the Friends of Coed y Felin in Lisvane, who Rhodri also helps manage. They “have been going it over for 20 years”, he says.

But he is “more than happy to just have a regular volunteer group here”, he added.

Volunteers moving felled tree to become part of dead hedging. Taken by Murthaza Ali-Hassan

That would involve “an informal group of people willing to come together and meet, ideally, on a monthly basis to get a lot of the jobs I need doing done”.

The Community Parks and Rangers Team of Cardiff Council have also recently won the Green Flag Team of the Year Award UK.

If you are a resident of St Mellons or close by, you can still get involved in the project. Two taster sessions have already taken place, and more sessions will be planned for January 2024.

  • Those who want to get involved can go to https://www.outdoorcardiff.com/ for more information