Stump Up for Trees is a very small, community-based, ground up, farmer-facing charity, engaged in trying to plant one million trees in the Brecon Beacons area for ecological restoration of upland landscapes. So what's critical for us is that we engage with the landowning community. We think that the landscape can be improved with farmers staying here. So what we don't want to see is farmers selling their entire farms for woodland creation.

What we want them to do is repurpose a percentage of their land for woodland creation, whether that's through agroforestry or native woodland creation on their very marginal land. So what we've been doing today with our amazing team of volunteers is tree maintenance, and on bracken sites where you've planted trees, what that basically means is removing the bracken from around the saplings to ensure that they get good growth and to ensure that the volume of bracken is not there in the autumn and winter, when the bracken dies back and it doesn't fall on top of the trees and snuff them out basically.

I really like to be involved because, you know, I like trees, I like nature, that sort of thing. But feel also like it's a good cause to give your time to make all this happen. And yeah, it's all about, you know, doing something for the environment but also, you know, having a good time with good people.

The Woodland Trust have been supporting us in multiple different ways right from the beginning. So when we had the idea to plant on Bryn Arw, even before we planted a tree, the Woodland Trust came to us and said, we think it would be really valuable if you conducted some baseline ecological surveys and they provided the funding for us to do that, which is terrific.

They also supplied us with some trees in order to conduct some experiments in planting on the bracken. And they also lent us their expertise and knowledge, which is incredibly valuable because we were pretty green at the beginning.

Coed Cadw have been amazing in helping us get set up, providing the trees to sort of start us off at the nursery and we grow them on and get them outside and planted, where they live forever! We're just getting to the point where landowners and farmers in particular are coming to us because we work really closely with them to make sure that the ecological restoration that we're doing through tree planting is working with them and it works in their landscape.

What we're seeing is this real shift in how people are approaching how important trees are, and how those trees can not only fit into the landscape, but actually enhance and improve what's there and bring this landscape to its full potential. And it's led by the community. And how can you not be excited by that? It's great to see.

Stump Up For Trees is an ambitious, community-based charity focused on woodland creation, enhancing biodiversity and safeguarding farming livelihoods in the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) area of south-east Wales.

In 2017, Keith Powell, a seventh generation Black Mountains Farmer, initiated the project and set about planting 135,000 native broadleaf trees on unproductive, bracken-covered common land on Bryn Arw.

Keeping farms in the family

In recent years, there has been a surge of large corporate companies buying up farmland in Wales for afforestation and carbon offsetting. But giving up on this land isn't the only option available to farmers.

This is where Stump Up for Trees comes in. Keith's charity aims to give farmers and other landowners a choice: to keep their family farm in hand, and make a small economic return by re-purposing their marginal agricultural land to native woodland creation or wood pasture with grant funding.

When Stump Up for Trees got in touch with our team at Coed Cadw (the Woodland Trust in Wales) about their project to plant native broadleaf trees on the banks of Bryn Arw, we couldn't say no. We were on-hand to provide:

  • woodland creation and conservation expertise
  • financial support
  • practical support
  • lots of trees!
7 ha

restored through natural regeneration

61 ha

planted with native broadleaf trees


trees supplied by the Woodland Trust

How we helped transform Bryn Arw

After contributing to a detailed site assessment, our experts helped Stump Up for Trees to revise the initial plans for its flagship project. The final design incorporated a mixture of woodland restoration and creation techniques to nurture a wildlife-rich mosaic of habitats, including:

  • 7 hectares of woodland established through natural regeneration
  • 61 hectares planted with new trees at a rate of 1,600 trees per hectare, supported by the Welsh government’s Glastir Woodland Creation biodiversity grant
  • flexible tree spacing and unmapped open areas of up to 0.1 hectares to accommodate features such as wet flushes, mature individual trees and other habitat.

Daw eto ddail ar fryn / There will be leaves on the mountain again

Keith Powell - Founder of Stump Up for Trees

Credit: Robert Read / WTML

Preparing the land

We helped with the cost of initial bracken mulching to prepare the hillside for planting. We also contributed more than 30,000 downy birch, sessile oak and rowan trees of local provenance to encourage a trial of larger trees than usually planted, which are likely to require less bracken weeding.

Credit: John Bridges / WTML

Upskilling volunteers

We also commissioned baseline surveys of flora, birds, moths and butterflies along transects through the planting area, plus adjoining habitats including ancient woodland and acid grassland.

Credit: Rob Penn

Planning for the future

Monitoring the site into the future is essential to its progress. This is why the specialist surveyors went on to train Stump Up for Trees volunteers in how to conduct bird, butterfly and flora surveys. More than 30 volunteers now have the skills to record the changes to biodiversity that are taking place inside and outside the plant site on Bryn Arw over years to come.

Key achievements so far

The bracken-filled common land at Bryn Arwr has been transformed.

  • Native broadleaf trees will provide food and habitat for wildlife.
  • Landowners now have a choice: to review our learnings and consider new opportunities on whether to sell up a family farm, or diversify and keep it in hand for generations to come.
  • Stump up for Trees has established its own nursery nearby to help other landowners plant more trees of local provenance and origin.

What's next for Bryn Arw?

We can't wait to see what the coming years bring for Bryn Arw and Stump Up for Trees.

Ongoing wildlife surveys

The baseline data from our species surveys has given the team a crucial marker from which to monitor success, and with more than 30 volunteers now trained in survey skills, each year they can do this monitoring themselves.

Year-on-year tree planting

The hard work isn't over – we'll continue working with Stump Up for Trees to help the charity get more trees in the ground over the coming years.

Home-grown trees

With our encouragement and support, Stump up for Trees is now able to start up its own tree nursery. This is vitally important, as home-grown native trees help to reduce the spread of tree pests and diseases and are more resilient to local conditions.

Want to plant trees on your land?

If you're interested in planting trees on land you manage or own, we can provide trees, funding and expert advice.

Trees for landowners and farmers

If you’re looking to plant lots of trees, we have the trees, grants and funding schemes to help.

Find out more

More about our work in Wales