Elwy Valley Cynnal Coetir Sustainable Management Scheme

Fallow deer monitoring from droneCynnal Coetir (Maintaining Woodland in Welsh) is a broad-spectrum project covering an area of 23,000 hectares in North East Wales. The project revolves around a population of fallow deer centred around the Elwy Valley river catchment and the associated impacts of said population on rare assemblies of woodland species.

There are four work programmes within Cynnal Coetir:

Landscape woodland management

  • Undertake woodland/deer impact surveys to establish baseline impact data in previously un-surveyed woodlands and change data in previously surveyed woodlands. 
  • Undertake aerial thermal imaging drone surveys to establish landscape deer density and distribution data.
  • Develop management plans with landowners based on impact surveys and density estimates of deer.
  • Support local collaborative landscape management to reduce deer impacts to woodlands and other habitats. 
  • Deliver woodland management training to stakeholders and volunteers alike.

Deer movement and impact research

  • Two PhDs to be undertaken by Bangor University.
  • Further Masters students may be involved in the project as it develops.
  • Live capture, and GPS tracking of deer thereafter.

Invasive species

  • Surveying the watercourses on the entire catchment of the Afon Elwy for invasive non-native plant species.
  • Grey squirrel project and outreach to the community involving GWCT, BASC and the Red Squirrel Trust.
  • Muntjac presence detected by survey work and subsequent sharing of information. Work with NRW to help inform national INNS (invasive non-native species) management plans and risk assessments.

Woodland education

  • Outreach to 30 local schools and 24 community groups.
  • Training in woodland management at the Woodland Skills centre.
  • General outreach and work with landowners to demonstrate the conservation value of their woodlands and how to protect them.
  • Deliver ‘Venison study’ to educate the public of benefits of such a valuable healthy resource in the area.

A range of innovative technology is used within this project. Working with Aberystwyth University’s GEOM project, we are developing survey methods for drone surveys and in-river monitoring of Himalayan balsam and developing and using GPS collars using a base station network to download data.

For the live capture of the deer, we will be using ‘clover traps’, which are single animal netted traps that have been used successfully in America since the 1950s – they have never been used in Wales to our knowledge.

Working with John Moores University, trail camera and drone footage is being sent to undergo artificial intelligence analysis to recognise deer and sex ratios.

Partners involved

  • Bangor University 
  • Aberystwyth University 
  • John Moores University 
  • Red Squirrel Trust 
  • APHA 
  • Approx. 70 landowners 
  • The Woodland Skills Centre Bodfari
  • Local deer management group
  • BASC
  • Penn State Department of Natural Resources