Lower Taff Valley Forest Resource Plan Consultation

Closed 14 Nov 2022

Opened 17 Oct 2022

Feedback updated 9 Dec 2022

We asked

We asked for your comments on the Forest Resource Plan for the Welsh Government Woodland Estate in the region of the Lower Taff Valley and The Vale of Glamorgan. 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 area.

It was clear that there is a high level of use in some of the woodlands for recreation including walking and mountain biking, and many responses want to see this use supported more, although some responses said there was not enough detail about this in the plans, with no mention of public access.  There was also a perception this use could be negatively impacted by woodland management activities. 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 environment.

There were comments expressing concern about perceived negative impacts of tree felling activity on the local environment and the communities near to the woodlands. There were also questions about the practical aspects of any felling, such as where the extraction routes will be, and disruption to local communities during operations.

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 species. Some responses asked for more connectivity between the woodlands in the plan, and other woodlands nearby. Some requested a more gradual approach from conifers to broadleaves rather than clearfelling.

There was some dissatisfaction about the information provided as part of the consultation and the quality of the maps and how hard they were to understand, as well as the amount of detail on the day to day management of the woodland which does not come through in the documentation.

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.

With regard to recreation on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate we are continuing to liaise with users of the woodlands to support and encourage more sustainable recreation for all users, and to reduce any potential conflicts, such as through the North Cardiff Woodlands project, and the North Cardiff Trails group.

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. Felling work is planned by a multidisciplinary team including conservation to ensure we adhere to the law and remain compliant with guidelines set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and within NRW guidance. Felling sites are continually monitored to ensure works are carried out sustainably and remain compliant and auditable to keep our accreditation intact. 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 will provide information, such as extraction routes, before work starts.

The approach taken in each woodland to restore native broadleaves depends on the current crop. If they are able to be thinned rather than clearfelled then that is our preferred option so that it is a gradual process. But if there is tree disease present, such as Phytopthora Ramorum, or if they have not been thinned previously and are now too old to do so safely and not risk wind blow, then clearfell is often the only option open to us to remove the conifers. But this is always carried out following the UK Forestry Standard guidance and carried out to impact the woodland as little as possible. Where there are important tree species, such as at Tair Onen, these will usually be retained during any cleafelling activity, as long as there is no danger of windblow from exposure after felling has happened.

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 Ramoram, which has impacted larch, ash die back, and other diseases that are affecting the resilience of the woodlands, and the challenge posed by climate change and how this will affect woodlands.

There was a question about the categorisation of Ancient Woodland and how this can be restored. Ancient Woodland, as recorded on the Ancient Woodland Inventory, is woodland where there is evidence that the wood has been there since at least 1600, as evidenced through maps, and supported by indicator plant species. This can include conifer plantations where the previous wood was replanted with conifers and where there are indicator species that the native woodland can be restored, these are known as Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS). When we say the objectives will be to restore the ancient woodland it means to restore it back to native broadleaves or manage the woodland and encourage native flora.

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 in future consultations


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 Taff and the Vale Forest Resource Plan is made up of 12 woodlands in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the Vale of Glamorgan, and Cardiff, covering approximately 877 hectares. The setting for of the majority of the woodlands is mostly improved agricultural grassland, native broadleaved woodland, and urban centres. The majority of woodlands are Plantations on ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) or Ancient Semi Natural Woodlands (ASNW), although Hensol and Llantrisant only have small areas of this type of woodland. The woods are also well used by the local community for informal recreation.

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

Lower Taff and The Vale Forest Resource Plan Summary of Objectives

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

Explanation of map keys



Overview of Forest Resource Plan Forests

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Map 1 - Long Term Primary Management Objectives

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Map 2 - Forest Management Systems

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Map 3 – Indicative Forest Types and Habitats

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

  • More broadleaves along river corridors and valley sides
  • Restoration of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites
  • Diversification of tree species

Why your views matter

We would like to know your opinion and views on the new plans for the Lower Taff and The Vale 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.


  • Cowbridge
  • Creigiau/St. Fagans
  • Dinas Powys
  • Llantrisant Town
  • Peterston-super-Ely
  • Taffs Well
  • Talbot Green
  • Wenvoe
  • Whitchurch and Tongwynlais


  • Management
  • DCWW


  • Forest Management