Trees at Forest Fawr – Don’t Panic!

By 23rd August 2017Uncategorised

DON’T PANIC!

We had a reassuring meeting with representatives of Natural Resource Wales yesterday regarding the proposed felling of the Larch trees in the forest around Tongwynlais. They are NOT going to clear all the forest and there are plans for regrowth.

The Welsh Government has said that all Larch trees in Wales have to be felled and NRW have been given until 2020 to carry out the work. Larch make up 15% of all the trees in Wales, with 6million to be felled, and are about 50% of the trees in the affected areas* of Fforest Fawr in Tongwynlais. Larch is not a native tree to the UK and all Larch trees in the country have been killed by, are dying from or are expected to die from, Larch disease (Phytophthora ramorum). The disease dies with the tree and although the Larch could be left to die, the Welsh Government have decided that this is not an option as it would prolong the breeding opportunity for the pathogen and dead trees will fall eventually and be a danger to users of the forests.

NRW looked at a number of options including closing the forest for a considerable length of time while the trees were felled, but they want people to continue to enjoy the forest. To minimise restrictions to the public, they will be felling the Larch in two phases, with the first phase starting in September 2018. There is only one small area that will be clear felled, with all the trees removed, as in most of the forest the Larch are interspersed with other species. Over the next twelve months, NRW will be planning how to extract the Larch without, where practicable, damaging the broad leaved native trees such as Birch, Oak, Beech etc. We are assured that even though half the trees will be felled, it will still feel like a wood, albeit with more space between the remaining trees.

Without the Larch, the remaining trees will have more light, as will the ground cover, and this will give them more opportunity to grow. With some of the Beech, it may even give them the opportunity to grow, eventually, to the size of some of the massive Beech trees around Castell Coch.

Preparatory works will be carried out soon, to widen and raise the clear space on the top road in Fforest Fawr, ready for the mechanical plant and trees next year. In early 2018, the quality of the track will also be improved with new stone covering etc.

It has been said that there is no plan for regrowth. That is wrong. The NRW knows from past work in the forest that it quickly regenerates and self seeds, with the clearance and opening up of the canopy allowing smaller trees at ground level to thrive and grow. From previous experience they know that within twelve months to two years, new growth will be evident and thriving with a variety of native species. They will still monitor the situation regularly and, if needed, will assist with some planned replanting after a few years. Remember, the forest will not be cleared, apart from one small area, just thinned. In some cases, a solitary tree, within trees to be retained, will be carefully felled, avoiding damage to the surrounding trees, and left on the forest floor to rot, rather than being extracted and damaging surrounding trees, flora and fauna.

Those trees that are to be extracted will be hauled to the top road in the forest and loaded onto timber lorries to be taken to the saw mills. The proposal is for the lorries to leave the top road, travel straight past the Black Cock and up to the main road. There are no plans for them to travel through Tongwynlais.

In the first phase of the felling, starting in September 2018, the work is being split into seven areas, each with a specific plan of work and all carefully worked out to minimise disruption, allowing access to many areas of the forest to continue with little restriction and ensuring the safety of the public.

The sculpture trail is well liked but over half of the sculptures are rotten and for safety will have to be removed. NRW will be working with the chain saw sculptor to create new sculptures to replace the ones that need to be removed.

We will be arranging a public meeting in late September or early October, depending on the availability of NRW representatives, to enable local residents to see exactly what is proposed and to ask any questions they may have.

 

*Note: updated 25.8.2017 to clarify query on percentage of trees affected. The 50% was the quoted percentage of the trees in some of the main areas where they (NRW) are felling from next year.  It is not the percentage of Larch in the whole forest; phase 1, starting in Sept 18, is not the whole of the forest.  Fforest Fawr may contain 200,000 trees (quoted in BBC Wales article), 4,000 are to be felled and they make up 50% of the trees in some of the areas in which the felling is to take place.

7 Comments

  • JANICE HUGHES says:

    Thanks for up dating us. Will you be working with local MP who appears to have a different view/ approach to this problem. Given that localls media is giving out statement to sign her petition for replanting .

    • WandT2017 says:

      Hello Janice,
      Thank you, we felt it important to ensure correct, informed information was given out which is why we waited until after a meeting with NRW was held before putting this update out.

      We have been in email contact with Anna McMorrin MP and will make sure she us made aware of, and is invited to the public meeting when the date is confirmed.

  • Caz says:

    Thank you for the update. It’s a shame that this wasn’t circulated initially by NRW (unless they did and I missed it) rather than the frankly, condescending post that the felling would not hamper the public enjoyment of the area, and the situation would be monitored. It’s always better to give people too much information than not enough. I am also a little concerned regarding overground water, which already can flow down Castle Road in absolute torrents, and would like to know if anyone has looked at the impact the removal of trees has on this, and what could be done about it.

    • WandT2017 says:

      Hello Caz, I’m not sure about this. we will add to our list of q’s for the next meeting with NRW.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Caz. we did touch on water run off and were told that as the ground is not being cleared, there will still be thousands of trees and there’s already a good understorey of small trees and ground vegetation that will bind the soil. There was no mention of increased water run off.

  • Julie Harris says:

    Confused you state 50% of the trees are Larch in Forest Fawr, is this correct ? Report yesterday on BBC said 4000 Larch from a total of 200,000 trees.

    • WandT2017 says:

      Hello Julie, the 50% figure we were given was 50% of the trees where the felling is taking place.The total forest area is much wider than the affected areas. We will update the text to make this clear. Thanks.

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