Cwmcarn Forest Drive campaign gathers 3,000 members

SWA CT 23.7.13GREAT OUTDOORS CWMCARN FOREST DRIVE. (9091910)

SWA CT 23.7.13GREAT OUTDOORS CWMCARN FOREST DRIVE. VIEW OF TY'N-Y-FFYON FARM (6257710)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is the green undergrowth against the brown coloured diseased dead larch trees, that should be green in colour. (6397802)

The Cwmcarn Forest Drive will be closing down in November to allow diseased Larch trees to be felled. Pictured is a car on the forest drive with larch trees either side of the road. (6397749)

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A CAMPAIGN to persuade Natural Resources Wales (NRW) not to close Gwent’s biggest tourist attraction in order to chop down thousands of diseased trees has gathered more than 3,000 members.

Rob Southall set up the online campaign in reaction to what he described as “the unnecessary devastation” planned by NRW in removing disease-ridden larch trees from Cwmcarn Forest Drive.

We reported in May that the seven-mile drive will close in November to carry out large-scale felling of trees affected by untreatable larch disease across 400 acres.

Peter Cloke, from NRW said closing Forest Drive was “a very difficult” decision but was necessary to make sure work was carried out safely.

But Mr Southall, who is also Gwent branch chairman for the Institute for Welsh Affairs, claims that there are “a number of inconsistencies” with NRW’s approach and said there were “ample” harvest roads around the Nant Carn valley which could be used to remove the trees, rather than close the whole drive to tourists.

Other areas including Cwmcarn forest, the footpaths, mountain bike trails, “glamping”, gift shop, Raven’s café and the visitor centre are to stay open for business.

But it is not yet clear how walkers will be prevented from walking across the road, or how much revenue could be lost from the closure, leading to speculation that the drive may never reopen.

“What needs to be removed via the drive could easily be done during the winter closure period,” he wrote on the Campaign to Save Cwmcarn Forest Drive Facebook page.

“However NRW say that the job will not be completed until 2018 and after this the drive may not reopen due to funding issues.

“This campaign may be our first and last chance to save the drive. The Forest Drive needs friends and I am reaching out to you all to protest and not simply accept the closure.

“It must not be allowed to happen,” he said.

Andy Schofield, regional land manager, from Natural Resources Wales, said: “We understand the concerns of local people about the closure of the forest drive.

“All of the larch trees in the forest are dead, dying or likely to be infected and we have to fell them in order to try and prevent further spread of the disease. We recognise the impact that the closure will have on some of the sites users.

“However, the approach we are taking will ensure that the visitor centres, mountain bike trails and play areas will remain open so it is still a fantastic place to visit.

“The decision to close the Forest Drive, which is the only part of the forest which will close for a prolonged period, has not been taken lightly. The felling and removal of timber by lorries, will be taking place on an unprecedented scale and it would not be safe to undertake these operations with the drive open to public vehicles.

“Our intention is to reopen the forest drive once the felling and replanting work is completed but, as there is financial pressure on the public sector, we cannot guarantee that this will happen.

“Our aim is to start replanting as soon as possible so that we can create a forest that is more diverse, more attractive for visitors and a better habitat for native wildlife.”

Felling starts later in year

AN AERIAL survey in 2013 showed widespread infection by Ramorum disease of larch at Cwmcarn Forest, one of Wales' biggest urban forests made up of 78 per cent larch trees.

Dead or dying trees will need to be felled over the next few years and replaced by oak, rowan and beech to make the area more resilient to disease.

The forest, which is a plantation producing timber, is managed by NRW on behalf of Welsh Government.

The area attracted 253,000 visitors to its Visitor Centre in 2013 and 25,000 visited the Forest Drive. It costs £5 per car or £25 per season ticket to access the track.

Starting in November work will be carried out across 400 acres of forestry remove over infected 50,000 tonnes of timber.

In a statement the body said they will keep visitors informed of planned trail closures or diversions via their website, newsletters, social media and the visitor centre.

“No decision has been made about the future of Forest Drive yet as it will require considerable investment to repair following our felling and haulage operations,” said the statement.

“However, we are keen to reopen it if feasible and we’ll be exploring all possible funding options to do this.”

Comments (7)

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7:39pm Tue 26 Aug 14

DAC006 says...

The Drive cannot be allowed to close. It puts Cwmcarn, Islwyn, Gwent not only on the Map in Wales and the UK but all over the world.
I will happily still visit with the trees felled and removed and new trees planted for the views, the parks and the walks once you drive up to the car parks.
This campaign will draw in thousands of supporters and it wont be long before we see some high profile support and more news coverage as the campaign picks up pace.
The Drive cannot be allowed to close. It puts Cwmcarn, Islwyn, Gwent not only on the Map in Wales and the UK but all over the world. I will happily still visit with the trees felled and removed and new trees planted for the views, the parks and the walks once you drive up to the car parks. This campaign will draw in thousands of supporters and it wont be long before we see some high profile support and more news coverage as the campaign picks up pace. DAC006
  • Score: 12

8:36pm Tue 26 Aug 14

lord.iron.of.shumg says...

Where can we sign up ?
Where can we sign up ? lord.iron.of.shumg
  • Score: 8

9:55pm Tue 26 Aug 14

SASHA.P says...

I think NRW are doing the right thing not only is the site dangerous during the felling process due to heavy plant machinery the site is a complete hazard regardless of the felling process if there are dead diseased and dying trees on site then nobody should be accessing these areas as not being funny or nothing but I am sure if a tree fell on somebody due to natural causes it would be devastating for anyone involved the real difference would be made if all the 3000 protesters made an effort and let them clear the woods and put their 3000 people worth of help into helping the area become replanted it would be done in next to no time !you could create a forest group and seek funding from various organisations to help get the forest back into a managed state look at the long term future of what's on your doorsteps and what you enjoy the most
I think NRW are doing the right thing not only is the site dangerous during the felling process due to heavy plant machinery the site is a complete hazard regardless of the felling process if there are dead diseased and dying trees on site then nobody should be accessing these areas as not being funny or nothing but I am sure if a tree fell on somebody due to natural causes it would be devastating for anyone involved the real difference would be made if all the 3000 protesters made an effort and let them clear the woods and put their 3000 people worth of help into helping the area become replanted it would be done in next to no time !you could create a forest group and seek funding from various organisations to help get the forest back into a managed state look at the long term future of what's on your doorsteps and what you enjoy the most SASHA.P
  • Score: 0

12:39pm Wed 27 Aug 14

Good Job No Kids says...

These are the very same people that would be suing for compensation as and when they get hit by a falling branch from a diseased or dead tree.

Try finding PI insurance for operating a site like this with full public access, good luck.

Considering the value of the timber to come out, (most of which will be fine to use) exceeds the forest drive annual revenue ten fold +, impose a levy on NRW for closing the place. No lost revenue should mean it can reopen.
These are the very same people that would be suing for compensation as and when they get hit by a falling branch from a diseased or dead tree. Try finding PI insurance for operating a site like this with full public access, good luck. Considering the value of the timber to come out, (most of which will be fine to use) exceeds the forest drive annual revenue ten fold +, impose a levy on NRW for closing the place. No lost revenue should mean it can reopen. Good Job No Kids
  • Score: 0

5:56pm Wed 27 Aug 14

Twmbarlwmtump says...

You can access the campaign to save the drive facebook page at https://www.facebook
.com/groups/93874029
2808719/ .

I believe that if it really was a PI Insurance they'd close the valley to mountain bikers too. Personally I am walker and it would take a 7 feet tall barbed wire fence to stop me walking through those woods. As a walker I am much more likely to be injured by a falling (or fallen) tree.

Personally I also want see the larches cut down and the area replanted with broad leaves. I'd also like to see the farm houses and barns demolished by the Forestry Commission between 1945 and 1970 rebuilt and turned into holiday lets, I want to see people from near and far continuing to come to Cwmcarn to use the campsite and Drive because I want to share the fact that we live in such a gorgeous area with others.

I don't want to limit the Nant Carn valley only to those who, like me, can walk or cycle up there. That is simply unfair.

Finally, NRW never properly consulted the public on this issue and that is completely unacceptable in our modern democracy in Wales
You can access the campaign to save the drive facebook page at https://www.facebook .com/groups/93874029 2808719/ . I believe that if it really was a PI Insurance they'd close the valley to mountain bikers too. Personally I am walker and it would take a 7 feet tall barbed wire fence to stop me walking through those woods. As a walker I am much more likely to be injured by a falling (or fallen) tree. Personally I also want see the larches cut down and the area replanted with broad leaves. I'd also like to see the farm houses and barns demolished by the Forestry Commission between 1945 and 1970 rebuilt and turned into holiday lets, I want to see people from near and far continuing to come to Cwmcarn to use the campsite and Drive because I want to share the fact that we live in such a gorgeous area with others. I don't want to limit the Nant Carn valley only to those who, like me, can walk or cycle up there. That is simply unfair. Finally, NRW never properly consulted the public on this issue and that is completely unacceptable in our modern democracy in Wales Twmbarlwmtump
  • Score: 16

11:27pm Wed 27 Aug 14

-trigg- says...

At least some new information has now been made available regarding the extent of the work that will be taking place.

For every single larch tree to be felled and then replanted with a more diverse mix of trees is certainly not something that can be accomplished lightly.

However, the Forest Drive is one of the few attractions in the area so it is important that it remain open if at all possible.
At least some new information has now been made available regarding the extent of the work that will be taking place. For every single larch tree to be felled and then replanted with a more diverse mix of trees is certainly not something that can be accomplished lightly. However, the Forest Drive is one of the few attractions in the area so it is important that it remain open if at all possible. -trigg-
  • Score: 2

2:14pm Thu 28 Aug 14

DavidMclean says...

As an ex-Cwmcarn boy I remember when the Scenic Forest Drive (as it was known back then) opened. It was exciting stuff.

I spent all summer exploring and playing up those mountains both before and after the opening of 'the Scenic'. However, it has to be said that the actual trees that make up the managed forest aren't the best beyond their use as rapid grow wood supply, the closely packed trees effectively stop anything else from growing underneath them. If you wander into the trees its like a desert in there.

A more natural deciduous forest is the way to go and will see the mountains returned to their natural state. When this is done the Forest Drive will be far more attractive to tourists as there will be wildlife and all sorts going on that isn't there now.

Of course the only problem is; that nobody reading this will be around to see it. Deciduous trees take decades to reach maturity and most of us will have shuffled off this mortal coil before the job is completed.

By the time the next version of the Drive is opened, they'll be scooting around in flying cars, wearing silver suits and eating meals in tablet form. Probably ;-)
As an ex-Cwmcarn boy I remember when the Scenic Forest Drive (as it was known back then) opened. It was exciting stuff. I spent all summer exploring and playing up those mountains both before and after the opening of 'the Scenic'. However, it has to be said that the actual trees that make up the managed forest aren't the best beyond their use as rapid grow wood supply, the closely packed trees effectively stop anything else from growing underneath them. If you wander into the trees its like a desert in there. A more natural deciduous forest is the way to go and will see the mountains returned to their natural state. When this is done the Forest Drive will be far more attractive to tourists as there will be wildlife and all sorts going on that isn't there now. Of course the only problem is; that nobody reading this will be around to see it. Deciduous trees take decades to reach maturity and most of us will have shuffled off this mortal coil before the job is completed. By the time the next version of the Drive is opened, they'll be scooting around in flying cars, wearing silver suits and eating meals in tablet form. Probably ;-) DavidMclean
  • Score: 3
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