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Trees and woodlands in Wales will benefit from increased protection thanks to the appointment of two new Wildlife Rangers by Forestry Commission Wales.
James Upson is based in the South Wales valleys and Colin Cresswell is based in Powys. They both worked as student rangers for Forestry Commission England before transferring to their new posts in Wales.
The role of the Wildlife Rangers is to protect trees and to help increase biodiversity within the public forests managed by Forestry Commission Wales.
A priority for the new rangers is to protect woodlands and fragile forest habitats from damage caused by deer. Deer numbers have increased considerably over the last 40 years and they have spread to many parts of the country where they had not existed in the last two hundred years.
High numbers of deer grazing the land around trees cause significant damage to native woodlands. This grazing spoils habitats for woodland birds and mammals as well as reducing breeding and feeding opportunities for invertebrates such as butterflies. Deer also eat young trees, many of which have been planted by Forestry Commission Wales to replace non-native conifers that have been removed.
Management techniques include maintaining or reducing deer densities and fencing off very vulnerable woodland habitats. In areas where deer populations are too high – the annual increase in the fallow deer population can be around 30% and in roe deer more than 50% – the Wildlife Rangers are trained to cull wild deer humanely. This human intervention replaces the role of large carnivorous predators such as wolf or lynx that would have regulated deer numbers in the past.
James Upson said, "Joining Forestry Commission Wales is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am benefiting from working within an experienced and professional team which is dedicated to protecting the woodland environment."
Colin Cresswell said, "By managing wildlife and protecting young trees from the harmful effects of browsing, rangers can enable our woodlands to provide environmental benefits both now and in the future."
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
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