Lower Rhondda Forest Resource Plan Consultation

Closed 8 Apr 2022

Opened 4 Mar 2022

Feedback updated 2 Aug 2022

We asked

We asked for your comments on the Forest Resource Plan for the Welsh Government Woodland Estate in the Rhondda Valley. The Forest Resource Plan is a high level plan that determines the overall management of the woodlands, setting out the long term objectives for each woodland (ancient woodland restoration, native woodland management, or standard forestry management, for example), and the general approach to any restocking, such as with native broadleaf or coniferous species. But the plan does not go into the specific day to day management of the estate, this is provided by our Land Management and Forest Operations Team whose work the plan informs.

You said

We had a high level of responses to this consultation showing how much people value the woodlands in the Rhondda.

It was clear that there is a high level of use in some of the woodlands for mountain biking and other recreational pursuits, and many responses want to see this use supported more. There was also a perception this use could be negatively impacted by woodland management activities. There was also dissatisfaction with the wording used in the document that listed unauthorised mountain biking as anti-social behaviour in the same context as fly tipping.

However, there were also some responses that expressed concern about the level of mountain biking in some woodlands and the impact this could have on other users and the woodland itself.

There were many comments expressing concern about perceived negative impacts our felling activity has on the local environment and the communities near to the woodlands.

There was broad support for aims to restore ancient semi natural woodland on the estate and improve biodiversity within the woodlands, and there were some responses that wanted more native trees and less conifer on the estate.

There was some dissatisfaction on the information provided as part of the consultation and the quality of the maps and how hard they were to understand.

We did

We have taken the comments received on board and they have been shared with relevant teams within Natural Resources Wales. The level of interest in this FRP shows how much the woodlands are valued locally and by visitors for recreation and health and wellbeing which is something we want to support and encourage.

We continue to work with The Bike Doctor at Barry Sidings Country Park to agree an approach to responsible mountain biking at Gelliwion that will support the mountain bikers as well as other users, and will allow woodland management activities to take place, and we are moving towards an agreeable solution for everyone.

We now realise putting mountain biking in the same sentence as fly tipping might not have been taken well, however this was focusing on irresponsible trail building and use of trails that damages the woodland ecosystem, puts other users in danger, and prevents management activities, not mountain biking in general. In future we will be clearer in our language when discussing such issues.

Forestry activities follow best practice to minimise impacts on the local environment, and although can sometimes look unsightly, is carried out in line with the UK Forestry Standard and UK Woodland Assurance Scheme. We do not deforest the land, as is often thought, but areas that have been felled will be left fallow for some time and then restocked or allowed to naturally regenerate with native species depending on the objective. Leaving the area fallow can have benefits to reduce pests and diseases, and the brash left can help to reduce run off and rot down to provide nutrients in the soil. We are working to improve how we communicate with neighbours and communities when forestry operations are being planned and to communicate why we manage the woodlands in the ways we do and the benefits it brings.

We are working hard to balance the demands on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate and the three objectives as set out in the Woodlands for Wales: The Welsh Government’s Strategy for Woodlands and Trees (2018), that they provide benefits for communities, for biodiversity and the environment, and for the economy. We are also working hard to meet the challenges provided by diseases such as Phytophthora Ramorum, which has impacted larch, ash die back, and other diseases that are affecting the resilience of the woodlands.

We understand the dissatisfaction that some people have expressed about the level of information provided and the difficulty in understanding the maps and some of the terminology. We are taking on board this feedback and will be working to improve the level of information in the Forest Resource Plans and to make the mapping easier to understand.


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, which set out the long-term vision for these woodlands and are the basis for 25-year silvicultural programmes of work (management of the trees) that set out to deliver this vision.

The Lower Rhondda Forest Resource Plan consists of 7 woodlands in the Rhondda Valley, totalling 2,025 hectares. The woodlands are predominantly conifer plantations on the valley sides and hilltops. Part of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate at Cwm Saerbren is within the Mynydd Ty-Isaf Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and Craig Pont SSSI is next to Mynydd Ton Forest above Llwynypia.

The neighbouring habitats of these forests are Ffridd and open heathland habitat on the hilltops, with some areas of bog, and native woodlands and improved agricultural grassland on the valley sides. The majority of these forests are also next to communities who use them for low level recreation for health and wellbeing.

Below is a link to the summary of objectives for the plan:

Lower Rhondda Forest Resource Plan Summary of Objectives

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

Explanation of map keys




Map 1 - Long Term Primary Management Objectives

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Map 2 - Forest Management Systems

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Map 3 – Indicative Forest Types and Habitats

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

Your browser does not support inline PDF viewing. Please download the PDF.

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

  • Clear felling of larch in the next ten years (approx. 209 hectares)
  • More native broadleaves along river corridors and valley sides
  • Restoration of Ancient Woodland and Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites.
  • Diversification of tree species to reduce monoculture plantations.

Why your views matter

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

What happens next

A summary of the consultation responses and outcomes will be available on this website 4 to 6 weeks after the closing date.


  • Ferndale
  • Maerdy
  • Pontypridd Town


  • Management
  • DCWW


  • Forest Management