Port Talbot’s most prominent forest will be getting a makeover soon, when Forestry Commission Wales makes some changes to the trees that grow there.
The forest on the hillside of Mynydd Dinas overlooks Port Talbot and the M4 and provides a green backdrop to the industrial and residential areas.
Currently, it is made up of a mixture of trees, both conifer and broadleaf, but many of the Japanese larch trees, a deciduous conifer, have fallen victim to the fatal tree disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum.
The infected Japanese larch trees, which make up about 10% of the forest, will be felled over the next six months as part of Forestry Commission Wales’s strategy to minimise the impact of the outbreak of this serious disease.
The felling of these trees will mean that the native broadleaf trees and heathland that already exist on Mynydd Dinas will be able to regenerate naturally - sooner than originally anticipated in the Forest Design Plan for the site.
The gradual restoration of this native woodland will help preserve the special landscape character of the area, as well as providing habitats for species such as ground-nesting birds and butterflies.
After the felling of the Japanese larch is completed next year, Forestry Commission Wales will upgrade some of the roads that run through the forest to improve access for lorries to remove the timber from the site.
Although there may be restrictions to public access in parts of Mynydd Dinas forest while the felling takes place over the next six months, visitors will soon be able to use the upgraded roads as a walking route through the forest.
Forestry Commission Wales manages Mynydd Dinas forest on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Community Ranger Jonathan Price said, "Phytophthora ramorum is a serious tree disease and, by felling the infected trees in Mynydd Dinas forest, we hope to limit the production of the spores that spread the infection and therefore minimise the impact of the outbreak.
"The forest on Mynydd Dinas forms an important visual backdrop to Port Talbot, and the felling of these conifer trees will give us the opportunity to improve the views for the local community by restoring the site to a broadleaf native woodland."
Phytophthora ramorum is a fungus-like pathogen which was first discovered on Japanese larch trees in South Wales in June 2010.
A programme to fell trees infected by Phytophthora ramorum is underway, and Forestry Commission Wales has worked with timber processors and others to ensure biosecurity measures are in place to allow logs from infected trees to be taken to mills for conversion into timber and wood products.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Phytophthora ramorum (P. ramorum) is a ‘quarantine’ organism under European Union law and its suspected presence must be notified to the relevant authorities (the Forestry Commission, Fera, the Welsh Assembly Government or the Scottish Government). It was first found in Britain on a viburnum plant in a nursery in 2002.
- P. ramorum can kill many of the plants that it infects, but symptoms vary according to the species. On Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) trees, it causes shoot tips to wilt and needles to turn black and fall prematurely. Cankers that bleed resin can appear on the branches and upper trunk. Infected Japanese larch trees produce particularly high numbers of the spores that spread the disease – five times the level produced on rhododendron - meaning the disease can quickly affect a large number of trees and shrubs.
- P. ramorum was first discovered on Japanese larch trees in Great Britain in 2009 in South West England. It was then found on larch in South Wales in June 2010 in public woodlands in the Afan Valley, near Port Talbot, in the Garw Valley, near Bridgend and in the Vale of Glamorgan.
- Larch is a durable, versatile timber that tolerates changes between wet and dry conditions very well, and resists rotting when used in the ground. It is therefore in demand for outdoor uses such as fence posts, fence panels, exterior wall cladding, boats, sheds and furniture, as well as indoor uses such as flooring and chipboard. It is easily stained, worked and finished.
- 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. It 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.
Mary Galliers email@example.com, 0300 068 0300