NEARLY a year on from the wildfires on Twmbarlwm, there are fears that bone dry timber and branches lying abandoned on the side of the mountain will cause future infernos.

One mountain biker has warned of the risk of potential fires caused by hillsides full of “bone-dry brash” left behind by loggers, who are felling diseased trees from from hillside.

Steve Harris, a regular rider on the trails around Cwmcarn, says he is frustrated over what he believes is a lack of courtesy being shown by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in the maintenance of the logging operation in the valley.

South Wales Argus:

“The brash has been left lying around with no attempt, in many cases, seemingly being made to remove the fire hazard especially in the valley area and across the top of the mountain where it’s not immediately obvious from the fire road,” he said.

Previous attempts to garner a reaction from NRW, by way of

an almost-1000 strong petition

to get the mountain bike trails reopened to riders had an initial impact but Mr Harris believes that more could be done.

South Wales Argus:

“The initial awareness of the petition may have galvanised them to some sort of reaction which may have led to the shorter section of track being open for Easter,” he said.

“But the lack of interest shown since then is what made me contact the fire brigade to arrange the removal of the fire hazard.”



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Along with a representative of South Wales Fire Service, Mr Harris visited various parts of the site to showcase the potential danger caused by the areas already targeted for logging.

“The man from South Wales Fire Service was as horrified as I was by the amount of bone-dry brash,” said Mr Harris.

South Wales Argus:

“In some cases, it had been left lying in what looked like a continuous bonfire for 50 or 60 yards along the length of one section of fire road.

“It’s been cleared in some cases where it’s obvious from across the other side of the valley, but it still poses a linear fire hazard up the side of the mountain. It really does not have enough of a break between each section.

South Wales Argus:

Mr Harris believes that the brash piled up on either side of the fire road would easily spread from section to section of the site.

On top of his concerns about a potential fire risk to the area, Mr Harris believes his petition to reopen the mountain bike trails has also fallen on deaf ears.

“Heartbreak Ridge is a complete mess,” he said.

South Wales Argus:

“You can’t even see where the trail was. A section of the trail lower down has a fallen tree across it too, it would take two minutes to clear that with a chainsaw.”

A spokesperson for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: "South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) are aware of the concerns raised regarding the brash left behind after tree felling within Cwmcarn Forest area.

“Our Land Engagement Officer has made a site visit to assess the area and is currently liaising with Natural Resources Wales."

South Wales Argus:

Peter Cloke, Deputy Forest District Manager from Natural Resources Wales said: “Last year’s fire at Cwmcarn Forest had a devastating impact and caused a major setback to our replanting works.

“The steep terrain at Cwmcarn makes harvesting felled timber incredibly difficult and does result in a build-up of brash alongside forest roads. However, leaving brash in the forest is generally considered best practice and can have many environmental benefits such as creating valuable habitat and providing nutrients for the next generation of trees.

“We are currently weighing up the benefits against the fire risk.

“Most cases of fires in the forest are started deliberately and we urge anyone who sees anything suspicious to report it to the police immediately.”

Mohammad Asghar, AM for South Wales East, said: “I am very concerned to hear the problems at Cwmcarn Forest are continuing.

“I contacted Natural Resources Wales previously about the problems being caused by tree felling and reminded them they had a duty to ensure that any inconvenience should be kept to a minimum.

“The risk of fire is extremely worrying, and I will be raising this with Natural Resources Wales as a matter of urgency.”