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Important conservation work will be stepped up in some Assembly Government woodlands in south Wales after a local contractor won a four-year contract with Forestry Commission Wales.
The security of work following the tender process gave M&D Services of Port Talbot the confidence to invest in new machinery that will enable the company to clear vegetation from forest roadsides and remove invasive species that damage woodland ecosystems.
The company bought a modified head with large shears which it has fitted to a tracked excavator that can cut up to 14” diameter trees, making it ideal for carrying out essential clearing work for FC Wales, which manages the woodlands.
So far, the company has carried out important conservation work in two woodlands on Gower, in Penllergaer woodland near Swansea and in Hensol woodland near Cowbridge after winning a contract by competitive tender.
Community Ranger Jonathan Price said the longer term packages offered by FC Wales were showing benefits in forest management by helping private contractors to plan ahead with confidence during difficult times.
He said, "It's great that this work can be done, as it’s an essential step in improving these woodlands.
“This is the first time that we have tendered conservation work for such a lengthy period so that contractors can have the security of work to enable them to invest in machinery.
“It allows the local contractor to secure work and employ staff who in turn contribute to the local economy.”
Clearing roadside vegetation will allow the forest roads to dry out quicker by allowing more light to reach them and provide a valuable habitat for woodland edge plants such as Early Purple Orchids and butterflies such as the Speckled Wood.
It also means that previously overgrown forest roads can be reinstated so that machines can gain access to carry out clearance work on invasive species – mainly Rhododendron ponticum and Cherry Laurel – which reduce biodiversity by shading out the ground and stop native trees and ground flora from regenerating.
NOTES TO EDITORS
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.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
For more information on conservation work in south Wales woodlands, contact Jonathan Price on 01633 580218, mobile 07789922748.
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, email firstname.lastname@example.org