Student volunteers open new path in Penglais Woods

Members of Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers and the local community celebrate the official opening of the new path in Penglais Woods.

Members of Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers and the local community celebrate the official opening of the new path in Penglais Woods.

23 March 2017

Student volunteers at Aberystwyth University have celebrated the opening of a new path through Penglais Woods.

Since September 2016 Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers have been managing the eastern half of the woodland which is owned by the University, removing invasive species such as Rhododendron to promote greater bio-diversity, and improving drainage.

More recently the student group has been focusing its efforts on developing a new walk along a hidden stream, just above Plas Penglais, which completes a circular walk of the woods for the first time.

Up to twenty volunteers have been working on the project which has involved building two bridges across the stream from fallen Sycamore trees.

Areas of woodland have also been cleared to promote the growth of native species including oak, beech and ash, daffodils and bluebells.

The new path was officially opened on Wednesday 22 March.

Final year Geography student Iolo Jones is President of Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers. “We are delighted with what we have achieved over the past few months and very much hope that our fellow students, University staff and members of the local community will make the most of this wonderful nature reserve. We’re also grateful to the University for entrusting the management of the woodland to us as a group, giving us an opportunity to build something worthwhile, and also for the support of the University’s grounds team who helped with felling some of the larger trees, drainage work and providing gravel for the new path.”

Paul Evans, Grounds Manager for the University said: “The volunteers have done an excellent job and it has been a pleasure to work with them and follow their progress.  Where possible we have supported their work, particularly with clearing some larger trees, drainage work, and providing stone to various locations for the path, but the vision and the work is theirs, and the new path would not have been done without their commitment.”

Professor Emeritus Len Kersley, a member of the Parc Natur Penglais Support Group since it was set up twenty five years ago, has paid tribute to the work of the Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers.

Professor Kersley said: “Over the years we have had tremendous amounts of help from generations of Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers. They have done all kinds of work in the park; improving the environment, tree planting, dry stone walling, helping to clear gorse and brambles so that people can see the bluebell display, but also they have done lots of work over the years on public access, improving paths, building steps and new entrances and signposting. It is wonderful to see this continue with the opening of this new path today.”

Covering an area of nearly 11 hectares, Penglais Woods extends from North Road behind Plas Penglais and up as far as Pentre Jane Morgan, and has become a haven for wildlife and a valuable community resource.

Established in the 1960s, Aberystwyth Conservation Volunteers has been working on conservation projects around Ceredigion on weekends and has well established links with the National Trust, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) and Ceredigion County Council.

Its aims are to enable students to enjoy the local environment and promote practical skills such as hedge laying, building paths and managing habitats.

Now that the latest path has been opened, the group will be working with the University’s grounds team to develop a comprehensive management programme for the reserve.

Iolo added: “There is plenty of potential for further work in the woods and on the path, including building steps and managing vegetation, and providing information through a series of panels. This means more opportunities for our volunteers to learn new skills and make a valuable contribution to the local community.”

The lower part of Penglais Woods is managed by Ceredigion County Council as nature reserve Parc Natur Penglais.