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A farmer whose land shines a light on Welsh history stretching back thousands of years is planning to carry out work to his woodlands to meet thoroughly modern needs.
Emlyn Roberts’s father, Griff, bought the woodland on his land, in the foothills of Cadair Idris, from the Forestry Commission to provide some diversity to the farm income.
Now the woodland on Tydfarch Farm, near Llwyngwril, where the family farm sheep and some cattle, is ready to be thinned so that some of the trees can provide timber for the local market.
Emlyn received a grant from the Forestry Commission Wales Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW) scheme to help him realise the economic potential of the land.
He aims to put in fencing and build access tracks so that the woodland can be thinned and some trees extracted.
But the work will have to be carried out in a way that preserves the rich archaeological value of the land, which tells the story of the area’s past extending back more than 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.
Both the Countryside Council for Wales and CADW, the guardian of Wales’s ancient monuments, were consulted before the BWW plan for the woodland was approved.
Forestry Commission Wales commissioned a detailed survey of the 180 hectare woodland, which resembles an encyclopedia of Welsh history, to ensure that all the relics were accounted for and catalogued.
Among the site’s historical treasures are several Bronze Age (2,200BC to 700BC) cairns, the remains of Iron Age/Romano-British (700BC to AD410) settlements, undated sheepfolds and enclosures and post-medieval (AD1536 to AD1899) slate quarries.
In addition to protecting these features, Emlyn will need to ensure that any work within the woodland does not have an effect on the neighbouring Cadair Idris Special Area of Conservation (SAC). This designation was made due the ecological importance of this mountainous landscape and its special habitats.
Peter Jones, Forestry Commission Wales Woodland Officer in the Grants and Regulation team, said, “We were pleased to be able to help Mr Roberts add value to the trees on his land, but the fascinating remnants of history on this site required thorough investigation before the plan could be approved.
“Woodlands can generate a useful additional income for farmers, but it’s important we do all we can to preserve the special landscape character of Wales.”
Because of the woodland’s prominent position along the Mawddach estuary, Forestry Commission Wales went to extraordinary lengths to ensure it blended naturally with the surrounding landscape when it was planted in 1979.
The planting team had radio contact with a second team on the opposite side of the estuary which directed them where to place marker flags to determine the most suitable shape for the woodland.
Peter said, “After several attempts and many days of hard work, an acceptable design was reached and plotted on the ground.
“The woodland remains a very prominent part of the scenery but, despite the effort made to try to get it right, it has been criticised over the years as being completely out of character.
“If designed today, it's likely it would have been done by professionals rather than a few FC staff with flags on poles working via a dodgy radio link!”
The BWW grant scheme has now closed to new applications and has been replaced by a new woodland management grant under Glastir, the Welsh Government’s new sustainable land management scheme.
For more information on grants available for planting new woodland, ring 0300 068 0300 and ask for the Forestry Commission Wales Glastir woodland team, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or look online at www.forestry.gov.uk/glastirwoodland.
Caption: The remains of an ancient Roman settlement are just one of many historical features to be seen in the woodlands on Tydfarch Farm, near Llwyngwril.
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.
BWW has been replaced by a Glastir grant developed by Forestry Commission Wales to create woodlands. The new grant aims to help fulfil the Government’s commitment to increase the amount of tree cover in Wales, as well as the range of tree species.
FC Wales will continue to deliver woodland creation grants until January 1, 2013 via Glastir on behalf of the Welsh Government.
Glastir replaces previous land management schemes including Tir Gofal, Tir Cynnal, Tir Mynydd and the Organic Farming Scheme/Organic Farming Conversion Scheme.
Press office contact: Clive Davies on 0300 068 0061, mobile 07788 190922, e-mail email@example.com