750,000 trees planted to restock forests affected by larch disease

Work by Natural Resources Wales to replant large areas of woodland felled due to larch disease has been completed at a number of forests across Wales in recent weeks.

These include important areas such as the Bwlch Nant yr Arian near Aberystwyth, the Afan Valley near Neath and Wentwood in the Wye Valley.

In the last 18 months, specialists from Natural Resources Wales have planted more than 750,000 trees to restock felled areas affected by the disease.

This is alongside the 3.4 million trees replanted at other woodlands to regenerate the forests after felling for timber production.

This work has been partly funded by an additional £2.5 million from Welsh Government in 2013/14.

The specialists are now replanting 37 different species of tree to replace those that have been felled, including native oaks, cherry and lime as well as more marketable timber like Douglas fir, Serbian spruce and Western red cedar.

This is double the number of tree species that would have been planted ten years ago.

The aim is to create woodland that is more resilient to diseases and make for a more attractive forest for people to visit and provide a habitat for more species of wildlife.

The replanting work on the Welsh Government woodland estate is in response to the necessary felling of more than 2 million trees, covering almost 2000 hectares of land, since the disease was first discovered in 2010.

It has now been confirmed that infected trees cover more than 6600 hectares of woodland, 5300 hectares of which is on the Welsh Government woodland estate managed by Natural Resources Wales.

Surveys in 2013 found that the disease had spread more quickly than expected after a wet and warm winter created the perfect climate for the spores to travel to other trees.

Natural Resources Wales will be carrying out more surveys in the coming months to assess the extent of areas infected by the disease.

Neil Muir, from Natural Resources Wales, said:

“Tackling this disease in our larch trees is a difficult task. We are working on a new Welsh Government strategy *which aims to slow down the disease by felling in new areas of infection.

“However, there is a positive side to this disease as we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to redesign the forests we manage to make them more resilient to disease and a better place for people and wildlife.

“We also need people who enjoy our forests, like walkers, mountain bikers and families on a day out to take simple steps to help us slow the spread of diseases like this.”

People can find advice on what measures they can take to manage the spread of diseases on the Natural Resources Wales website.

These include keeping to the woodland paths, keeping dogs on leads and cleaning footwear and clothing of all soil, needles and plant debris at the end of your visit.

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