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Forestry Commission Wales has begun to remove a number of illegally constructed mountain bike jumps and other trail features in the Foel Fynyddau area, near Pontrhydyfen.
Forestry Commission Wales Mountain Bike Ranger Howard Sims said, "A notice was posted in the area giving the people who constructed the illegal technical trail features 20 days to contact us. No one has done so and now we have no choice but to demolish them."
Woodlands offer exciting opportunities for recreation and the Afan Valley area is well known for having excellent mountain bike trails. Forestry Commission Wales is committed to delivering a high standard of trail features for everyone to use.
Howard said, "Official mountain bike trails in the area are carefully designed and maintained. We also inspect them regularly and make improvements wherever we can.
"Removing the illegally technical trail features is a time-consuming and costly task. The time and money spent dealing with this issue detracts from the management of the official trails in the Afan Valley."
The area, known locally as The Foel, or The Masts, is also home to well established wildlife habitats and scheduled ancient monuments, one of which has been damaged as a result of the illegal construction.
Howard said, "Forestry Commission Wales is not restricting riding in the area. We welcome mountain bike riders using the forest trails and natural landscape. We are only restricting the illegal construction of technical trail features, such as ramps and jumps."
Another issue raised is that some of the trails have been built on leasehold land for which users do not have a right of access.
James Roseblade, Local Area Manager for Forestry Commission Wales, said, "We are concerned about the risk of injury to people using the area.
"Some parts of these illegally constructed features are in areas which are scheduled forest operations sites. The larger operational vehicles, including the timber haulage wagons, have limited visibility and there is a clear safety issue here.
"Unauthorised and illegal trail features are not included in our records of the area. Forestry Commission Wales is working hard to ensure that the area is safe for removing trees.
"If we can’t see mountain bike users, we can’t ensure their safety."
NOTES TO EDITORS
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.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Visit News at FCWales for news, images, press office contact details and links to case studies.
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