‘Slimmed down’ woodland’s looking good

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We might all be thinking about going on a diet at this time of year – but foresters even slimmed down a woodland to improve its appearance.

Forestry Commission Wales thinned 165 hectares of Gethin woodland, near Merthyr Tydfil, in a process that will create a more natural environment for the public to enjoy in years to come.

Foresters have been selectively thinning trees in the 853-hectare woodland instead of clearfelling them in order to improve biodiversity in the woods, which boast great crested newts, a ravenry (as well as other threatened birds), bats, badgers and insects.

This method of management – called continuous cover forestry – encourages natural regeneration and is in line with the aims of Woodlands for Wales, the Welsh Government’s strategy for trees and woodlands.

Forestry Commission Wales planning forester Claudia MacDonald-Robins said, “As part of our commitment to the woodland strategy, we thinned the older trees instead of felling them in order to improve the growth and form of the trees and to encourage natural regeneration.

“This will enable the trees to seed and young trees to grow under the parent trees. This means there is a less dramatic impact on the landscape.”

Some 2,000 tonnes of mainly sitka spruce were removed under contract with the company, Euroforest, and sold to mills at Pontrilas, Gwent Timber Products in Crumlin, Cothi Fencing near Lampeter, Teifi Timber Products and Western Bioenergy in Port Talbot.

Forestry Commission Wales’s Karl Charlton, contracts manager for the Wales Harvesting and Marketing team, said, “We are very pleased with the results of this thinning. Restoring native woodlands offers environmental and social benefits, as well as helping to preserve the special landscape character of Wales.

“In the next 10 years we should start to see the age of crops change as new trees grow – giving Gethin woodland a great facelift for the enjoyment of locals and visitors alike.”


A total of 14.3 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Government.

Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.

For more information on Gethin woodland, contact Claudia MacDonald-Robins on 0300 068 0232, mobile 07771 667043, email

More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on

Visit News at FCWales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.

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