Upcoming forestry and land management work, Northern and Southern Wye woodlands, Monmouthshire

Closes 31 Dec 2024

Opened 24 May 2022

Overview

What work is taking place? 

Forest Operations

Extensive felling operations are beginning  in the Wye Valley to remove approximately 133 hectares of larch trees, from Manor wood,  Beacon Hill, Whitestone and The Fedw woodlands, which are infected with Phytophthora ramorum.

More commonly known as Larch disease, Phytophthora ramorum, is a fungus-like disease which can cause extensive damage and mortality to wide range of trees and other plants. Larch disease spreads through airborne spores from tree to tree. It poses no threat to human or animal health. 

The felling operations are expected to continue for a number of years.

You can view the maps of the proposed operational areas below. Please note these will be updated as the planning of operations progress and may be subject to change.

Ash Dieback

Work will also be taking place to remove a large number of ash trees from many of our woodlands, in the Wye Valley which have become infected with Ash Dieback.

Ash Dieback is another fungal like disease that is a serious threat to our Ash tree population.

Infected trees can become brittle, resulting in the need for careful management and the potential removal to ensure the safety of those visiting our beautiful woodlands.

Some standing dead wood and lying deadwood will be left on site to provide important habitats for wildlife such as birds, bats and saproxylic invertebrates.

Timber from diseased larch and ash trees can still be processed and used for a number of wood products including building materials, pallets, fencing and wood fuel pellets.

Please note that we will not be eradicating ash from our woodlands altogether and there will be many ash trees in our forests that will remain and be closely monitored by our teams for disease resistance.

Our approach to tree health in Wales

Climate change is increasing the threat of pests and diseases in our forests and woodlands, which  can have a devastating effect on our natural habitats, as well as significantly changing the landscape we know and love.

Whilst we can’t prevent pests and diseases from affecting our forests entirely, we can take action to slow them down.

Find out more about our approach to tackling larch disease and Ash Dieback 

Forest access during operations

It is likely that we will have to close off public access to some areas of forestry whilst operations are taking place, to allow the work to be undertaken quickly and safely.

Whilst we do not like to close off access to our forests, which are enjoyed by many, live harvesting sites are incredibly dangerous, and this is necessary to protect the safety of our staff, our contractors, and visitors to the woodland.

Please adhere to all closures and diversion notices when they are in place. We will do everything we can to minimise disruption to the local community.

Replanting 

Although it is unfortunate when we have to fell trees which are infected with larch disease,  it does provide us with the opportunity to re-design the woodlands and make them more resilient for the future.

We take pride in making sure our forests are felled responsibly, to meet all the requirements of UK Forestry Standards.

Our forestry team will closely monitor the site for signs of natural regeneration within the first five years of felling. Where natural generation is not possible, we will replant with a mixture of species, with a change in planting patterns that will help the woodland be more resistant to the threat of pests and diseases and climate change.

Thinning operations 

Thinning operations are underway in the Wye Valley. 

Thinning is an essential part of our forestry work, that allows us to maintain health and resilience of our woodlands and ensure they managed sustainably.

Once an area of trees has matured to a certain size, they begin to compete with one another for nutrients, water, and light.

Thinning the trees out helps to reduce this competition and allows us to remove unhealthy trees and those that are not growing well. Thinning also promotes stability within the remaining trees, increasing their longevity and enables tree canopies to be retained.

Within the Wye Valley thinning is used to manage species change over time to restore Ancient Woodland Sites. This is done by increasing light levels to the forest floor to encourage the regeneration of native broadleaves.

Forest Resource Plan 

We’re inviting people who enjoy using our woodlands across the southern Wye Valley to have their say on our long-term Forest management, which helps us to decide the best way to manage each woodland over the next 10 years.

The plan sets out long term objectives and proposals for the future management of the woodlands and the trees within them.

The consultation will be available shortly. 

Forest planning

The planning of felling, thinning and restocking operations within the wye valley woodlands is a long process. Plans are initiated within the Forest Resource Plan, which is then drawn into 5 year tactical programmes plans.

These tactical programmes are used to develop 2 year operational plans. These lead times are essential to ensure that all the correct checks, consultations,  surveys, and regulation is adhered to. A sample of some of the work that is undertaken during the operational planning phase are:

  • Ecological surveys (habitat, Bats, Birds, badgers, Flora and fauna)
  • Heritage survey
  • Hazards and constraints checks
  • Volume estimation survey and boundary marking
  • Facilities planning
  • Stakeholder consultation
  • Coupe evaluation and product break out.
  • Working Method
  • Water management planning.  
  • EIA screening
  • Habitat Regulation Assessments

Tackling invasive species in the Wye Valley 

This summer, our land management teams are asking for your help to tackle Himalayan Balsam in our woodlands across South East Wales.

Balsam is an invasive species that can rapidly take over an area of woodland, shading out native plants that are more desirable for pollinating invertebrate such as bees and butterflies.

If you see one of the below signs in our woodlands we’re asking if you can help us tackle the spread by:

  • Pull - Pull the plant out of the ground (including the roots) Make sure you are wearing gloves!
  • Break - Break the plant up by snapping the stem in multiple place
  • Squash - Finish it off by placing the plant on the ground and squashing it with your shoes. Then leave the plant to decompose naturally on the side of the path

If the seed pods look like the ones shown in the image below, it's important that you don’t pull the plant as this will cause the seed pods to burst and disperse over a large area.

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More information can be found here  Natural Resources Wales / Invasive non-native species in woodlands

Coppicing in the Wye Valley 

We are running a programme of coppice management restoration in the Wye Valley to restore and create valuable habitats associated with coppice management and to provide community participation and education days.

Coppicing is an ancient way of looking after trees which involves cutting them down to ground level, so they can then sprout and regrow with lots of stems. We use these for woodland products like charcoal, hedging stakes, bean poles and faggots – clumps of woody material tied tightly together – to stabilise riverbanks.

We are working with a Community Interest Company called ‘Wye Coppice’ who have run community charcoal demonstrations and faggot making days in partnership with the Wye Valley AONB.

Sites we have coppiced recently include Troy Park, Wet Meadow and Coed y Ffermau.

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Recreation - Whitestone natural playground 

Due to safety reasons, we unfortunately needed to remove the wooden play equipment from the play area at Whitestone carpark near Tintern in November last year, as the wooden frames had begun to decay.

A more natural play area is in the process of being designed and installed in its place, using natural features, that would be found in a woodland or other countryside setting.

We want the new play area to inspire children to get immersed in play and engage with nature, encourage them to explore the beautiful forest and beyond, have adventures and get absorbed in imaginary worlds.

View the designs for the new play area below: 

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More information

We will provide regular updates on this page about the work as the operations progress.

Give us your views

If you have any questions, please get in touch: SEForest.operations@naturalresources.wales

Areas

  • Ystrad Mynach

Audiences

  • Management
  • English

Interests

  • Forest Management