- October 1, 2019
- Posted by: David Rees AM
- Category: Latest News
Following concerns raised by several constituents regarding the work being undertaken by NRW on the Foel, I have written to them asking what proposals they have for tree felling in that area. Please see below the response I have received which I hope explains the actions being taken and their intention to undertake further engagement with stakeholders.:
Thank you for your email regarding tree felling in the Afan Valley.
We recognise there has been significant social media interest in Natural Resources Wales’ proposal to fell trees at the Foel Woodland above Pontrhydyfen. The felling of dead and dying Lodgepole pine at the top edge of the woodland adjacent to the mast is necessary as we believe it currently poses a risk of injury to users of the woodland. This forms part of our planned forest operations and is intended to commence in December and be completed by March. I have enclosed a map showing the location of the area to be felled and, as you correctly note, we have started some initial work to improve access to the site to facilitate timber extraction.
The timber itself will be utilised for electricity production at the Western Wood Biomass plant in Margam which, given the proximity, will keep transportation to a minimum.
We recognise there are several “unauthorised” mountain bike trails within the woodland itself. These trails have been built without our consent and, whilst we understand locals use and maintain them, they are not subject to the same safety inspections as the trails managed and maintained by NRW. In the past we have tried to remove unauthorised trails, however given the number across south Wales we no longer pursue this approach. Instead, we place signs at the start of trails to advise members of the public that the route is unauthorised and we therefore cannot guarantee the safety of users. We are not obliged to maintain the unauthorised trails however we will be encouraging the harvesting teams to avoid causing unnecessary damage whist undertaking tree harvesting operations.
Following the tree harvesting, our Forest Resource Plan (long term management plan) for this area identifies the area as being allowed to revert to heathland given the biodiversity benefits this would bring. As a result, replanting will only occur on the lower slopes to create a transitional woodland habitat between the remaining woodland and the open ground/heathland.
I would like to reassure you that, whilst social media has generated significant interest amongst some of your constituents, we were already in the process of starting an engagement process with local stakeholders around these planned forestry activities. We will be writing to interested parties to provide them with further information and will also share contact details for our local staff for any additional questions.
I hope this information is helpful for you and your constituents however should you require any further clarification please do not hesitate to contact me.
Pennaeth Gweithrediadau De Orllewin Cymru / Head of Operations South West Wales