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LIVE 24-SEVEN


Conifer cones – L to R Sitka Spruce, Norway Spruce, Larch, Scot’s Pine, Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar (Photo: Andy Karran)


In the UK, the woodland cover is much reduced on what it was historically, with Ancient Woodland now only covering 2% of the landscape in the UK as a whole and half of this is suffering greatly from invasive species or having been covered by coniferous plantation.


It is recognised that there is a great need for good ecological quality woodland for a multitude of reasons to include; nature conservation, amenity value, health and wellbeing, flood prevention and tourism.


Ancient Semi-natural Woodland* is by far the most valuable type. Whilst the planting of new woodland is important, it can take a very long time for a fully functioning woodland ecosystem to develop with the associated woodland flora, fungi and invertebrates. However, with a Plantation on Ancient Woodland Site (PAWS)**woodland there can be many remnant ancient woodland features ‘hanging on’ and waiting to flourish given the opportunity - this can greatly speed the creation of, and increase the overall ecological quality of the woodland.


That is why Gwent Wildlife Trust has been working with the Woodland Trust to survey PAWS woodlands, produce management plans and assist the owners to restore their plantations to broadleaved. This involves identifying Ancient Woodland features such as woodland flora (Bluebells, Wood Anemone, Ramsons and Yellow Archangel), veteran trees (dead and alive), archaeological features, together with patches of broad-leaves which whilst not being ancient, would, if preserved, give a great head-start to any woodland enhancement work.


Management plans then highlight the areas that need preserving, how and when conifers should be removed to allow more light in and whether broadleaved tree planting or natural regeneration is the best way forward to recreate the broad-leaved woodland.


We have found that even the most seemingly unpromising, dark, barren PAWS woodland have valuable remnant features, many in urgent need of appropriate management so they can flourish again and create the important wildlife habitats of the future.


Wood Sorrel – Another species able to survive in darker coniferous plantations (Photo: Andy Karran)


Moschatel – An unusual small plant with a cube shaped flower head with a flower on five faces. Also colloquially known as the Town Hall Clock (Photo: Andy Karran)


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Wood Anemone – This attractive species was still found in good numbers on the edges of some plantations (Photo: Andy Karran)


If you have PAWS woodland in SE Wales, we would love to hear from you and would be more than happy to undertake free surveys and provide management advice if you require it.


*Ancient Semi-natural Woodland (ASNW) – Woodland that has had continuous cover of native broad-leaved trees since at least 1600. **Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) – Ancient Woodland that has been felled and replanted with woodland (usually non-native conifers), this usually having occurred in the 20th Century.


Please contact Gwent Wildlife Trust’s Andy Karran on akarran@gwentwildlife.org or 01600 740600. To find out more about the work of Gwent Wildlife Trust visit www.gwentwildlife.org


LIVE24-SEVEN.COM


GWENT WI LDL I F E TRUS T WOODLAND


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