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National Resources Wales grant helps keep welsh woodlands accessible

Pictured: Horselogging at Cadnant in Caernarfon

A Natural Resources Wales (NRW) grant has helped to keep green spaces and woodlands accessible to the public during Covid-19.

Last year, Coed Cadw (the Woodland Trust in Wales) received the £267,762 grant from the NRW’s Strategic Allocation Fund. The primary purpose was to support them in adapting to the new Covid-19 environment, and to continue to make Welsh woodlands safe and accessible for visitors.

Coed Cadw used the grant to undertake the thinning of ash trees badly affected by Ash Dieback at Coed Cadnant – an urban woodland providing a valuable recreational resource for the communities of Peblig and Cadnant in Caernarfon. Timber was extracted using traditional horse logging – an ecologically sensitive forestry management technique which limits impact on forest floors and limits the use of fossil fuels by using horses to transport felled trees. This work has improved the long-term safety of the wood for visitors, as well as creating canopy gaps for other native species to regenerate.

Work was also carried out at Common Wood, a plantation on an ancient woodland site on the Gower Peninsula. The area suffered from poor access, dominance of bramble, and a history of planting with non-native trees. Under ecological supervision, Coed Cadw made improvements to enable better public access, whilst improving the habitat for resident dormice and aiding future ancient woodland restoration.

Kylie Jones Mattock, Estate Manager from Coed Cadw explained:

“Demand for access to the countryside has been growing steadily, but 2020 saw a phenomenal increase in visitors to our woods, with lockdown prompting people to seek both solace and exercise in the green spaces on their doorstep.

Coed Cadw manages over 120 woods in Wales that are free for visitors to enjoy, and we were proud to be able to keep our sites open throughout the pandemic – and heartened by the many comments from visitors who found them a lifeline in this most difficult year. But more visitors mean more pressure on our infrastructure and on our wildlife, while at the same time, the pandemic meant that we were unable to undertake many of the usual fundraising activities that help to support us.

The Strategic Allocation grant enabled us to keep up with the essential safety, access and conservation work that must go on behind the scenes to keep sites safe and welcoming, for wildlife and people, at a time when it’s needed most.”

The Strategic Allocation Fund highlights National Resources Wales’ ambition to put tackling climate change and the loss of nature at the heart of Wales’ pandemic recovery plan.