New beginnings for Kanji wood

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Visitors to Kanji wood, known locally as the Japanese garden, near Pontrhydyfen in Afan Forest Park will notice some changes in the next couple of months as work gets underway to remove trees there that have been infected with a fatal disease.

Kanji wood is made up of around 60 different species of tree, both conifer and broadleaf, and it is also home to a range of Japanese plants and sculptures featuring Japanese writing known as Kanji.

Many of Kanji wood's Japanese larch trees, a deciduous conifer, have fallen victim to the disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum. These trees will be felled in early 2011 as part of Forestry Commission Wales’s strategy to minimise the impact of the outbreak of this serious disease which has recently been discovered in various parts of Afan Forest Park.

At the same time, Forestry Commission Wales will also remove certain other trees within Kanji wood in order to allow more light into the site to boost the growth of the remaining trees.

Kanji wood will be closed to the public while the felling takes place and, when it is completed, Forestry Commission Wales will review its plans for the site and consider possible improvements, such as planting more trees from other countries to enhance the collection that already grows there.

Forestry Commission Wales manages Afan Forest Park on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government. Community Ranger Jonathan Price said, "Phytophthora ramorum is a serious tree disease and infected Japanese larch trees produce high numbers of the spores that spread the infection so that a large number of trees can quickly become affected.

"Various parts of Afan Forest Park contain Japanese larch trees infected with this disease and, by felling these trees in sites such as Kanji wood, we hope to limit the production of the spores that spread the infection and therefore minimise the impact of the outbreak.

"Once the felling has been done, we will have the opportunity to consider the future of this popular woodland and look at ways of improving it for the next generation."

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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


Mary Galliers, , tel: 0300 068 0057.