Volunteers keep Cardiff’s hidden countryside alive

Ian Giblett had no idea how many green spaces there were around Cardiff when he left university. Now he’s the head of the Cardiff Conservation Volunteers, helping to maintain and restore the hidden countryside of Cardiff.

Ian Giblett, head officer of the Cardiff Conservation Volunteers.

After a good few minutes of elbow grease the tree finally comes down with a satisfying thud. Ian Giblett, head officer for the Cardiff conservation volunteers (CCV), dusts himself off and sets to work stripping the branches from the trunk. Like many of the other trees that are being felled at Forest Farm, it will become part of a new set of steps on a footpath being laid by the group. According to Ian, not only will the footpath provide new access to the area and discourage pedestrians from trampling the surrounding vegetation, the woodland will be given a new lease of life by the chopping down of these young trees, a process called coppicing.

Unnoticed by many of Cardiff’s inhabitants, work like this is carried out by volunteers every week. Under Ian’s cheerful leadership, the CCV works to maintain the city’s many beautiful woodlands and nature reserves.

“Every Sunday the group goes out and we do all sorts of work from coppicing woodlands and general woodland maintenance work, like taking out invasive species. The most popular tasks tend to be the ones where we’re constructing,” says Ian.

Infographic desciribing the process of coppicing woodland
Traditional skills like coppicing are a vital part of woodland management in Cardiff.

The CCV are a tight-knit group, sharing the work and exchanging stories about their week as they do. Although many of their tasks are labour intensive and time consuming, Ian and the volunteers are happy in their work. Many say that this was just what they were looking for, a chance to get out in Cardiff to work with their hands. For some its all about the conservation and working to protect Cardiff’s wild spaces, but for others, it’s about the friendships they form in the group and the community feeling.

For Ian, joining the group wasn’t something he had planned on. Once ignorant to the many beautiful places around Cardiff and the skills needed to maintain them, Ian first joined the volunteers out of a desire to get involved with manual work outdoors.

“I was just finishing university and I was looking for something outdoor related to do, and a friend of mine just said ‘I went out with this group on Sunday and we chopped down a load of trees’. I thought, that doesn’t sound very environmentally friendly, but it does sound like fun. I’m going to give that a go”.

Read more at InterCardiff

If you want to get involved with the CCV, or want to find out more about their work, visit their website here.