Coed Preseli, Pembrokeshire 2015

This award winning woodland maximises sustainable timber production and quality for income generation while providing for effective biodiversity, landscape enhancement, wildlife and archaeological conservation, and soil and water protection.

RFS Silviculture Award 2015 – Gold

Coed Preseli, Crymych, Pembrokeshire

The management objectives, which are clearly being achieved, are maximising sustainable timber production and quality for income generation while providing for effective biodiversity, landscape enhancement, wildlife and archaeological conservation, and soil and water protection.

Carefully controlled thinning, based on good record keeping and continuous observation of the outcomes, has resulted in the development on contrasting sites of a strong understorey by natural regeneration of conifers and broadleaves, which has been further diversified by enrichment planting with additional species.

It is an excellent example of the considerable potential benefits to be gained from well informed implementation of continuous cover forestry principles.

Coed Preseli is owned by Mr and Mrs R. E. Holding and is a forest plantation of 565 ha planted mainly with Sitka spruce with some Lodgepole pine, Japanese larch and other mixed species. The majority has been planted since 2005, with some original plantations created between 1955 and 1962.

The forest consists of two main blocks about 1 mile apart, Glyn Aeron on higher, generally better drained land, and Tŷ Rhyg, an equally exposed but lower lying and wetter site. 58 ha of the former and 32 ha of the latter were entered into the competition.

Both areas are managed according to continuous cover forest management principles. Timber production is by selective removal of large diameter trees, governed by silvicultural principles of removing approximately 20% of the basal area every four years on a target diameter basis.

Trees are marked for removal by the forest manager and are selected according to strict selection criteria. It is very important that this is done and that selection is not left to the harvesting contractor.

Harvesting is mechanised using purpose built machinery and trained personnel to ensure damage to residual trees is minimal, that regenerating trees are protected as far as is possible, and that forest roads, important biodiversity and archaeological features are respected.

Composition of woodland areas

Selective felling is routinely followed by small group planting of Douglas fir, Western red cedar, Norway spruce, and broadleaves to supplement and enhance natural regeneration. Existing natural regeneration and planted trees are afforded equal protection during harvesting.

Soil and organic material from borrow pits created to provide stone for road maintenance are conserved and used to restore the pits, with native trees and shrubs planted as part of the restoration process to increase diversity.


Monitoring of timber yield clearly demonstrates the production of very high proportions of quality 18cm sawlogs, with all recent selective felling operations exceeding 83% sawlogs by volume, representing over 97% of value yield, which is mainly sold to local sawmills.

A lesser quantity of 14 cm bars, fencing material, biofuel, firewood, chipwood and pulpwood is also produced.


Pre-operational surveys are carried out by the forest manager, recording notable species and any aspects of forest management requiring attention in order to ensure their protection.

Some of the notable species recorded include Royal fern (Osmunda regalis), beard lichen (Usnea articulata) and nesting red kites, ravens, teal, and wintering great grey shrikes.

Bird nesting boxes suitable for cavity nesters have been erected throughout both forests and are monitored by a local volunteer ornithologist. Notable species that have used the nest boxes include pied flycatcher, redstart, tawny owl and kestrel.

Mist netting and bird ringing are periodically done in Tŷ Rhyg, and this has revealed the presence of a large number of bird species. Informal records by local ornithologists, who value the site highly, are routinely reported on the Pembrokeshire Bird Blog.

Public access and recreation

Public access and recreation are provided through open access to the woods and through a formal agreement with Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Equestrian use is allowed by agreement with the owner, who has constructed purpose-built tracks for endurance riding and training.


All forest management activities are carried out by local contractors using their own trained staff, while the sale of woodland products to local users ensures further downstream employment.

Lessons learnt

This forest demonstrates what can be achieved by a skilled forest manager applying continuous cover principles in co-operation with a keen and enthusiastic owner who wishes to protect and enhance the landscape and environment while achieving a satisfactory forest income.

The importance of ‘hands-on’ management at all stages in the forest cycle is key to its success, including close liaison with knowledgeable, well equipped contractors employing skilled personnel.


Category Sponsor: Tubex

Judges: Dr John Good and Philippe Morgan