Flailbots and Battery tools
With over 1200 miles of public rights of way under our guardianship, caring for them is a year-round labour of love. From maintaining the network of pathways traversing our open hills, to protecting peatlands, to restoring stiles and trimming hedges on lowland fields and woods, it’s fair to say our dedicated team of park wardens have their work cut out. As the park’s frontline and most visible presence out in the wilds, they’re more than up to the task – but they’re not above accepting a little help when it’s needed.
Visitors can do their bit by following The Countryside Code: Respect, protect and enjoy the park, and keep in mind a ‘leave no trace’ ethos when exploring it – be it on foot, on horseback or perched on the saddle of a bicycle. We’re also blessed with an army of willing volunteers who help out with conservation projects, pathway repair and woodland maintenance. Meanwhile, in their day-to-day work, wardens are embracing modern technologies to help lessen the load of keeping our public rights of way open and accessible.
Some paths, traversing our wildest and most rugged terrain, would be either impossible or simply too dangerous to look after using traditional, sit-on mowers. One versatile piece of kit that comes into its own in these more challenging environments is the ‘flailbot’.
Think of it as a miniature, remote controlled tank – but one designed to attack overgrown footpaths and bridleways rather than enemy invaders! With a warden following at a safe distance behind, the flailbot can slash its way through dense undergrowth – even saplings and small trees – before they engulf pathways and turn a literal walk in the park into a jungle-style expedition.
While maintaining rights of way, we’re always mindful of preserving the park’s remarkable biodiversity, and of the impact of our work on the wider environment. Traditionally, professional groundskeeping tools such as strimmers, chainsaws and hedge cutters have been powered by petrol engines, and ours were no exception – you’d be hard-pushed to find an electric socket in the middle of the Taff Trail!
But advances in technology mean battery-powered versions of these tools are now just as effective as their combustion engine counterparts, and we’ve used Welsh Government grants to equip our team with top-of-the rage equipment from leading manufacturers Stihl and Husqvarna.
On site, wardens no longer need worry about temperamental engines and cold starts on chilly mornings. Concern over fuel spills – especially near delicate stream and river ecosystems – is a thing of the past. Tapping into energy from the solar panels installed on the roof of the warden depot in Brecon, means we can even power the tools by sunlight.
In short, battery power is cleaner, greener and less noisy to boot – and our wardens no longer finish the working day smelling as though they’ve lost a fight with a petrol pump. Sustainable tourism is top of our agenda, and this is yet another stride in our journey towards carbon neutrality – our wardens hope our vision will inspire others to explore battery-powered options, too.