Natural Resources Wales has decided to close part of a South Wales attraction later this year to carry out large-scale felling of trees affected by larch disease; a highly infectious and untreatable disease.
Forest Drive, a 7-mile road through Cwmcarn Forest, will close on Sunday 2 November 2014 to allow felling teams to safely prepare, fell and remove over 50,000 tonnes of timber from 162 hectares (400 acres) of infected forestry.
The rest of the attraction however, including a visitor centre, play areas, footpaths and mountain bike trails, will remain open.
The difficult decision to close the drive has been taken as the road will be used throughout the works by large forestry machinery and to transport felled trees out of the forest.
No decision has been made about the future of Forest Drive yet as it will require considerable investment to repair following the felling and haulage operations.
However, Natural Resources Wales is keen to reopen it if feasible and staff will be exploring all possible funding options to do this.
The felling of infected trees is accepted as the best way to slow the spread of the disease and the guidance from Welsh Government in their new strategy to tackle the problem.
The work at Cwmcarn Forest is part of a wider effort by Natural Resources Wales to tackle larch disease in Wales.
The organisation has so far felled more than 2 million trees on the Welsh Government woodland estate to slow down the spread of the disease.
In the last 18 months, of the 3.4 million trees Natural Resources Wales has planted, 750,000 of these are to replace felled larch with different, more diverse species.
Peter Cloke, from Natural Resources Wales, said:
“Closing Forest Drive was a very difficult decision to make but was necessary to make sure the work to prevent further spread of this infectious tree disease is carried out safely.
“Although the drive itself will be closed, Cwmcarn Forest, the footpaths, mountain bike trails and its visitor centre are still open for business and is a fantastic place to visit for a day out.
“The replanting work after we have felled the trees will involve more diverse species and native trees like oak, birch and rowan. This will make it a better place to visit and more resilient to disease and the impacts of climate change in the future.”