Abergele Forest Resource Plan

Closes 12 Dec 2022

Opened 15 Nov 2022

Overview

Natural Resources Wales is responsible for the sustainable management of the publicly owned woodlands and forests of Wales. They are managed for the benefit and well-being of the people who visit them and depend on them for their livelihood. This responsibility includes improving their biodiversity and long-term resilience to climate change so that future generations will also be able to enjoy the benefits they provide. Every ten years Natural Resources Wales reviews the long-term management plans for each forest area. These are compiled in a new Forest Resource Plan.

Abergele Forest Resource Plan (FRP) outlines the future management of five woodlands within the hills that surround the coastal town of Abergele: Gwrych Castle Wood, Coed y Geufron, Coed Bron-haul, Coed Tan-y-gaer and Coed Pen-y-gribin. The woodlands total an area of 122.6 ha and are characterised by both areas of restored ancient broadleaf woodland and areas of conifers classed as Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites.

The Abergele FRP woodlands all lie within Conwy County Borough and are all within five miles of the North Wales coastline. Despite this proximity to several population hubs and tourism towns most woodlands within the FRP are located within rural settings, surrounded by mixed arable-pastoral farmland that is predominantly focused on sheep farming. The exception to this is Gwrych Castle Wood, which is closest to the populous coastline and a local caravan site. In addition to this primarily farmed landscape, there is also a patchwork of relatively small woodlands and forests surrounding the FRP area. These consist of both broadleaf and conifer-dominated forests, some of which are on ancient woodland sites. The FRP woodlands are connected to these, and to the wider landscape, through a network of farmland hedges.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) manage the majority of Gwrych Castle Wood, though the area immediately behind the castle (an area of around 5 ha) is privately managed. Of the larger western segment managed by NRW, just over half is designated as part of the Llanddulas Limestone & Gwrych Castle Wood SSSI. The Coed y Gopa SSSI also lies around 190m from the eastern perimeter of the smaller segment of Gwrych Castle Wood under NRW’s management. Traeth Pensarn SSSI and Liverpool Bay SPA are the other designated sites located within 1km of the FRP boundary. Apart from a length of footpath of about 150m in length that runs alongside the Afon Elwy in Coed Tan-y-gaer there is no public access designated within the woodlands of the FRP. The whole FRP area lies within NRW’s North-West Wales Operational Area. The woodlands fall into parts of the Elwy, Gele and Dulas river catchments. All parts of these catchments, except the Lower Dulas, are rated as ‘Moderate’ or ‘Good’ under the Water Framework Directive assessment; the Lower Dulas is rated as ‘Poor’.

Map showing the locations of the Forest Blocks related to this FRP:

Abergele FRP Forest Block Location Map

Opportunities and Priorities:

Restoration of Ancient Woodland habitat and areas of conservation interest, through a combination of gradual Low Intervention Silviculture and, where this is not possible, clear-felling and restocking with native broadleaves. 

Using a combination of natural regeneration and carefully selected restocking to diversify the forest species composition to increase resilience to pests and diseases whilst building a robust forest for future generations.

Increase structural diversity through the implementation of Low Intervention Silvicultural Systems.

Diversify habitat assemblages within the FRP area. Where applicable this will include protecting and enhancing the qualifying features of the Llanddulas Limestone & Gwrych Castle Wood SSSI. This will include the restoration of 6.1 ha of limestone grassland and dry heath (priority habitat).

Increased riparian woodland areas for the improvement of habitat resilience, landscape-scale habitat linkages and long-term flood mitigation.

Designing a Forest Resource Plan that reduces the risk of further windblown trees whilst minimising the size of felling coupes as much as is practicable.

To produce a supply of sustainable Welsh-grown timber in the short-to-medium term by the ongoing removal of non-native conifers from Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites and other complimentary areas that would be better suited to broadleaf and/or open habitat restoration.

To further blend the visual impacts of the woodlands into the wider landscape, helping to enhance the National Landscape Characters of the Areas in which they sit.

Identify and protect important heritage features, including Listed Buildings within and around the FRP boundary.

 

 

Summary of the main changes that will occur in the forest:

Enhancement of the conservation value of the forests by…

  • The restoration of ancient woodland sites (41.5ha) by the removal of conifer and the creation of native broadleaf habitat.  The vision is that 73.4 % of the forest area shall be Restored or Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland by the end of the FRP period.
  • An increase in riparian woodland habitat (8.4ha).
  • An increase of areas managed as priority open habitat (6.1ha), thus protecting and enhancing the qualifying features of the Llanddulas Limestone & Gwrych Castle Wood SSSI.
  • Increase of Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS) to 58% of the forest area.
  • The removal of non-native Norway spruce (6.7ha) and Corsican pine (13.6ha) stands that are unsuitable for LISS management due to windthrow risk.
  • An increase in broadleaf diversity – both in species and in age – in order to increase the woodlands resilience to pests and diseases.

This document helps to explain some of the categories shown on the maps below:

Explanation of map keys

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Why your views matter

We would like to know your opinion and views on the new plans for Abergele forest so it can help us improve the long-term management of the forest.

 

Areas

  • Abergele Pensarn
  • Llanddulas

Audiences

  • English
  • Cymraeg
  • Citizens

Interests

  • Forest Management