Gethin, Merthyr Vale and Allen’s Estate Forest Resource Plan
Location and setting
Woodlands in the Merthyr Valley and between Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare.( Grid Ref: SO06020299 )
These forests are situated in within the county councils or Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf. The area covers 1364 Hectares. The surrounding boundaries are mainly farmland with some private woodlands.
The Gethin forest is a productive forest with good soils on the lower slopes allowing for diversity of trees species in future replanting. The upper plateau are wetter poorer soils and exposed to wind will limit species choice, but will grow productive conifer crops. The Bike Park Wales cycle trails are of high importance to the local tourism and recreation and have been engaged in this plan. Much of the larch has been removed or planned to be removed in the next 2 years due to disease (Phytophthora ramorum). This has been an opportunity to replant areas with more diverse species to combat climate change and disease in the future. The forests are known to have a problem with illegal off-road motorcycles and the district staff are in liaison with the police.
Allen’s estate is a well-established forest and is productive a woodland. The good soils and lower elevation will allow for a more diverse tree species in the future. The lower slopes will be replanted or natural regeneration of broadleaves on the native woodland areas.
Merthyr Vale woodlands have limited timber road access. These woodlands have a large percentage of larch which will need to be removed due to disease control. The soils and elevation will allow for diversity in the future. The lower slope are Native woodlands and will be reverted to broadleaved woodlands. Within the smaller block of woodland is a garden planted in memory of the Aberfan tragedy and will be noted on the forest constraints.
Summary of objectives
- Maintaining timber production – This will remain a key driver for these forests. The opportunities to diversify species will be used where appropriate and will enhance the sustainability of the forests. Native woodlands will be restored and expanded to create better connectivity and landscape value.
- Recreation - Generally the forests are open to quiet recreational pursuits ie walking, cycling. This will be maintained and considered during all forest operations. Bike Park Wales have a management agreement with NRW to maintain and manage the downhill bike trails. This is beneficial to recreation and tourism in and around the Gethin forest. The forests in this plan are used by locals for walking and cycling.
- Key habitats – The areas throughout the resource plan have been highlighted for natural reserves (UKWAS designation) and meet with the criteria. Also, within the Gethin forest there are a known newt population within the quarry ponds. These habitats are taken into account within the plans and connectivity will be noted by local forestry planning teams.
- Management systems – much of the forests are the first rotation conifer crops. Where there has been a good thinning regime, the preferred method management is via Low Impact Silviculture System (LISS), this will take advantage of natural regeneration of the new crops or possibly under-planting. Clearfell system will be used as appropriate and will need to be used due to the crops status (unthinned, exposure, soils etc.) near the bike trails.
- Access to smaller woodlands – Limited access to manage the woodlands are noted in this plan. This is with the district to programme, finance and consult with the relevant authorities. Without this access timber felling or restoring native woodlands are limited.