New woodland joy for inner-city children

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Inner-city children with disabilities will be able to enjoy the Snowdonia National Park’s stunning landscape after a wheelchair-friendly new native woodland was planted behind their outdoor education centre.

The woodland was planted at Plas Dol-y-Moch near Maentwrog, North Wales, which became Coventry's outdoor education centre when it was bought by the city council in 1966.

Since then, more than 100,000 young people from across the city have put their urban environment behind them to experience a week in the beautiful Snowdonia countryside.

Now, thanks to a Glastir woodland creation grant provided by Forestry Commission Wales, an all-access woodland has been planted so that children who previously were unable to enjoy the surrounding countryside can join in all sorts of adventurous outdoor learning.

Staff and volunteers from the centre planted native trees such as ash, oak and birch on almost one hectare of land behind the 17th century manor house set in 28 acres of gardens and woodland in the heart of the National Park.

The woodland includes a maze of gravel paths to allow access for less physically able users of the centre.

The paths will also be useful for orienteering and wayfinding, and there are plans to put in sleeping platforms where children and staff can lie back and marvel at the stars in the night sky, free of the light pollution found in cities.

The idea to plant the woodland came from deputy head teacher Phil Eccles, who wanted to educate young people about the natural environment and the benefits of planting trees.

He contacted one of the Glastir project officers trained by FC Wales to deal with all the paperwork and was delighted when the application for a woodland creation grant was successful.

“This grant for our woodland project will enable future generations of children – many of them wheelchair users – to enjoy and learn in an amazing environment,” said Phil.

“This will be a truly multi-purpose woodland where children from the city will be able to improve their health and well-being by experiencing a wide range of exciting opportunities for recreation and enjoyment.”

As well as providing an important educational and recreational resource, the new woodland will also improve the landscape and nature conservation value of the area.

As it grows it will become an extension to the existing ancient semi-natural oak woodland behind Plas Dol-y-Moch, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The centre is open all year round and there are usually 50 students there every day.

If you would like more information about grants for planting new woodlands, contact the Forestry Commission Wales Glastir woodland team on 0300 068 0300, e-mail or  look online at

About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Caption: Planting the new native woodland at Plas Dol-y-Moch.


About 14 per cent 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 other woodland owners and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email