Restoring ancient woodland

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Visitors to the popular Forestry Commission Wales woodlands at Hensol, near Cowbridge, and Penllegaer, near Swansea, will notice a difference this spring thanks to some careful restoration work.

Areas between trees and along forest tracks – known as forest rides - have been cleared of some of the trees to improve the appearance of the woodlands and to create new habitats for wildlife including butterflies and birds.

Woodlands such as Hensol and Penllegaer date back to at least 1600. The work to the forest rides here is part of Forestry Commission Wales’s programme of restoring ancient woodlands by removing non-native trees that were planted in the past, such as conifers. In the future, these woodlands will be dominated by native trees such as oak, birch, rowan and ash.

More types of wildlife live in the first ten metres of any woodland ride edge than in all the rest of the woodlands that surround them. The extra light allowed into the woodlands by the work at Hensol means that flora and fauna have a chance to flourish and visitors are likely to spot many more spring and summer flowers this year.

Forester, Matthew Whitehead, said, "Restoring native and ancient woodlands offers environmental benefits as well as helping to preserve the special landscape character of Wales.

"The restoration work to the forest rides at these two sites will help increase the diversity of flora and fauna within these beautiful and ancient woodlands."

New information boards have been erected in the car park at each site to tell visitors about the benefits of the restoration work and to outline long-term aims for the woodlands.

The work at Hensol and Penllegaer supports the aims of the United Nations, which has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. It was carried out on behalf of Forestry Commission Wales by local contractors.


Forestry Commission Wales is the government department responsible for forestry policy and looks after the 126,000 hectares (309,000 acres) of public forests owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

e-mail: Matthew Whitehead