Cwmcarn Forest Drive - 'Nothing has hit British forestry like this before'

Cwmcarn Forest Drive - 'Nothing has hit British forestry like this before'

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is the popular fishing lake attraction. (6397605)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is the visitor centre manager Michael Owen at the popular fishing lake. (6397616)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is the visitor centre manager Michael Owen at the popular fishing lake. (6397620)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is the visitor centre manager Michael Owen. (6397626)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured on the hillside are the brown coloured diseased larch trees. (6397630)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is the popular fishing lake attraction that will remain open. (6397634)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured on the way to the forest drive is an area that shows the brown coloured larch diseased trees. (6397697)

First published in News
Last updated

THE large-scale felling of more than 50,000 tonnes of disease-ridden larch trees in Cwmcarn Forest is likely to take more than four years.

The Argus was given a tour of the Forest Drive yesterday by National Resources Wales representatives. It follows the environmental body’s decision to close the seven-mile scenic road through Cwmcarn Forest from November to allow felling teams to remove more than 50,000 tonnes of timber from 400 acres of forestry infected by the untreatable larch disease. They will also be felling trees in the surrounding mountains.

In a statement last week, NRW said no decision has been made about the future of Forest Drive due to the associated costs of repair.

NRW said the decision to close the drive was taken because the road will be used by large forestry machinery and to transport felled trees out of the forest.

Peter Cloke, forest district manager for Natural Resources Wales, said: “It’s a logistical nightmare. It will look really bare and it will be a slow process – probably over four years if we’re being realistic.

“There are so many issues, we are in a lose-lose situation. To harvest this amount of trees in this sort of terrain is extremely complex.”

Mr Cloke said the extent of the damage to the trees had hit the forestry community hard. He added the decision to re-open the drive would partly come down to public sector funding because the road along the Forest Drive will have to be re-laid after the felling work because it is not built for heavy machinery.

He added: “Nothing has hit British forestry like this before.”

The rest of the Caerphilly council-owned attraction, including the visitor centre, caravan and camping sites, footpaths and mountain bike trails, will remain open during the work, which is scheduled to begin on Sunday, November 2.

Cwmcarn Forest is one of Gwent’s most popular attractions with visitor numbers having increased over the last 10 years from 64,000 in 2002/03 to more than 253,000 visitors in 2013.

Michael Owen, manager of the Cwmcarn Visitor Centre, said: “As far as the visitor centre and its features are concerned, it will be business as usual. We have invested a lot here in recent years. We have a tents site, caravan site, glamping site, mountain biking routes – these will all be going on as normal.

“The impact will be more visual than anything else. We just want to make it clear that people can still come up here.”

Comments (4)

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10:22am Thu 22 May 14

-trigg- says...

I have been following this story fairly closely and have a few questions that I hope the Argus can help answer.

1) The various articles regularly mention 50,000 tonnes of larch. Roughly how many trees is that?

2) What percentage of the total number of trees does this represent - are the hills of Forest Drive going to resemble heathland or simply be thinned out slightly?

3) Can National Resources Wales offer assurances that the trees planted to replace those that are felled will be from a diverse mix of species, to reduce the risk of such a drastic issue affecting the nation's woodlands in future?

4) Will the 50,000 tonnes of lumber be sold commercially for a profit? If so, what would this profit be spent on if not re-laying the road?
I have been following this story fairly closely and have a few questions that I hope the Argus can help answer. 1) The various articles regularly mention 50,000 tonnes of larch. Roughly how many trees is that? 2) What percentage of the total number of trees does this represent - are the hills of Forest Drive going to resemble heathland or simply be thinned out slightly? 3) Can National Resources Wales offer assurances that the trees planted to replace those that are felled will be from a diverse mix of species, to reduce the risk of such a drastic issue affecting the nation's woodlands in future? 4) Will the 50,000 tonnes of lumber be sold commercially for a profit? If so, what would this profit be spent on if not re-laying the road? -trigg-
  • Score: 10

9:09am Fri 23 May 14

displayed says...

"I have been following this story fairly closely and have a few questions that I hope the Argus can help answer."

Apparently not.................
...
"I have been following this story fairly closely and have a few questions that I hope the Argus can help answer." Apparently not................. ... displayed
  • Score: 1

2:55pm Fri 23 May 14

maggiesian says...

It would be better to pose these questions to National Resources Wales directly, but don't think you'll have an answer within 24 hours. That is a ridiculous expectation.
It would be better to pose these questions to National Resources Wales directly, but don't think you'll have an answer within 24 hours. That is a ridiculous expectation. maggiesian
  • Score: 0

11:11pm Sat 24 May 14

-trigg- says...

A more recent article has stated that 160,000 trees will need to be felled in Cwmcarn Forest Drive, so that's my first question answered at least.

An earlier article says that the work will take place over 162 hectares (presumably the area of the Forest Drive itself). A google search shows that the average density of a forest is around 2000 trees per hectare.

Therefore, it seems that we will be losing around half of all the trees currently growing there. If that IS the case, then local residents surely need to be kept fully informed, not only because of the massive change to the landscape but also the drastic increase in heavy traffic required to remove that quantity of wood.
A more recent article has stated that 160,000 trees will need to be felled in Cwmcarn Forest Drive, so that's my first question answered at least. An earlier article says that the work will take place over 162 hectares (presumably the area of the Forest Drive itself). A google search shows that the average density of a forest is around 2000 trees per hectare. Therefore, it seems that we will be losing around half of all the trees currently growing there. If that IS the case, then local residents surely need to be kept fully informed, not only because of the massive change to the landscape but also the drastic increase in heavy traffic required to remove that quantity of wood. -trigg-
  • Score: 0

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