Offenders and volunteers learn ancient skill to help protect woodland

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Young offenders and volunteers from Caerphilly are helping to protect a local woodland – and keeping alive an ancient skill at the same time.

Forestry Commission Wales has joined forces with Caerphilly County Council to build a dry-stone wall up on Fochriw Common to keep sheep out of the adjoining woodland.

Members of Caerphilly Young Offenders and the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers repaired and rebuilt 100 metres of dry-stone wall under the watchful eye of Caerphilly Commons Ranger Dave Parfitt and Martin Rathbone, a local dry-stone walling instructor.

In addition to protecting the trees, the project has improved youngsters’ job prospects by teaching them a new skill.

About 50 people attended taster days and some received further training which led to a level one qualification following a Dry-stone Walling Association examination.

Fochriw woodland is owned by the Assembly Government and is 69 hectares of mostly larch trees high in the uplands, overlooking the village of Fochriw and the Caerphilly Council visitor centre, Parc Cwm Darren.

Forestry Commission Wales Forest Ranger Emma Louise Felkin said, “The completed wall is approximately 250 meters long and is important for keeping sheep out of the woodland.

“Stone-walling is stronger, more natural and fits in better with the environment than metal stock fencing.

“Woodlands offer great opportunities for community involvement and, by taking part in this worthwhile project, the volunteers have gained a new skill which could help them in their search for work.”

More taster days are now being held on the common and the BTCV is holding six training days with a view to staging another level one test day next year.

Meanwhile, the group are moving on to build and repair other stone walls around the county bordering Assembly Government woodlands and Caerphilly Council-owned land.


About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

For more information on Fochriw woodland, contact Emma Louise Felkin on 02920 886863, mobile 07824 857541.

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email