Woodland Creation Planners’ Guide

A guide to identifying and accommodating sensitivities when producing Woodland Creation Scheme plans 

Reference number: GN002

Document Owner: Biodiversity and Resilience of Ecosystems Board 

What is this about?

How to identify and address potential sensitivities and maximise the chances of a Glastir Woodland Creation planting scheme being successfully verified. 

Who is this for?

Registered woodland planners tasked with producing plans for Glastir Woodland Creation applications, following a successful expression of interest. 

Contact for queries and feedback


Date Published: June 2019

Review Date: April 2021


The Welsh Government recognise the importance of woodlands in providing a wide range of social and environmental benefits. Its 2010 Climate Change Strategy for Wales identified woodland creation as a key action, aiming for an “increased level of woodland creation in appropriate locations in Wales”. 

This updated guidance has been developed in partnership with Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government and the forestry sector. We hope it will lead to more Glastir Woodland Creation plans being verified by supporting woodland planners to identify and accommodate sensitivities. 

We verify plans using a range of GIS data to identify areas that are particularly suitable for new planting, as well as those where changes might impact on ecosystems, heritage features, or social resources. The same layers used in the verification process are available to planners through the Glastir Woodland Opportunities Map and on GeoPDFs. The GIS data is supplied by Welsh Government and is reviewed on a regular basis to ensure consistency with current forestry and environmental research. To maximise the chances of your plan being accepted into the scheme you should aim to identify and positively address any sensitivities during the planning process. 

This guide explains how to identify sensitivities and indicates what impact they are likely to have on your application. It also explains the steps you will need to take to accommodate them in your plan.

Data quality

We use data from a range of sources. We aim to take a reasonable approach to the requirements attached to each layer based on the confidence we have in the data. Look for the ‘Data Notes’ and ‘Guidelines’ for each layer on the associated fact sheet. This may indicate the level of confidence attached to the layer and give advice on the sort of evidence you may need to provide if you have grounds to believe land has been included in error. 

Sensitive sites not recorded on the Woodland Opportunities Map

If you become aware of areas that you feel should be included in these layers but are not shown, then please inform us at the earliest opportunity. If you think an area might be an unrecorded priority habitat or other sensitive site, then we may be able to provide an ecologist to visit the site and give specialist advice. 

Contact glastirqueries@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk if you suspect you have a sensitive site that hasn’t been identified. 

Identifying sensitivities using the Woodland Opportunities Map

Step 1: Open the Woodland Opportunities Map 

Woodland Opportunities Map

Step 2: Mark your area

With the ‘measure distances and areas’ tool (icon below the zoom button in the top left hand corner of the map) use the area function to outline the land you intend to submit a plan for.

Step 3: Check the Woodland Creation Score

This layer uses different shades of green to highlight areas identified as being particularly suitable for planting. The scoring layer is used to assess expressions of interest against Welsh Government objectives. Areas shaded green will have no identified sensitivities to woodland creation called “points of interest” on the opportunities map. If the entirety of your area is shaded green you can move straight to step 5. If some or all of the area is unshaded you will need to identify the reasons and address them.

Step 4: Identify Areas of Interest

Sensitivities are recorded as ‘areas of interest’ on a transparent layer. They are not visible as shaded layers on the opportunities map. To identify them, in the Area measurement box click on “Click here to view the points of interest this area intersects”. A list of any areas of interest within your drawn area will appear. Refer to the relevant fact sheet in appendix 1 for further guidance.

Step 5: Identify Special Guidance Layers

Special guidance layers are visible layers, but are turned off by default on the opportunities map. They identify locations where care will need to be taken. A special guidance layer is unlikely to mean that you can’t plant, but you may need to carry out additional consultation and tailor your proposal.

Activate special guidance layers in turn by clicking the tick boxes on the right-hand side of the map and make a note of any parts of the area affected. Look up fact sheets for any special guidance layers you identify in appendix 2.

Step 6: Identify Constraints to Planting – existing woodland

Clearly, a woodland creation scheme can only take place in areas that are not already woodland. Activate the layer and check that none of your proposed scheme affects land that is identified as existing woodland. For more information about this layer, see the fact sheet at appendix 3.

Identifying sensitivities not shown on the Woodland Opportunities Map 

Unlike the other fact sheets, you can’t rely on the Opportunities Map or GeoPDFs to identify when these sensitivities need to be considered. You will need to review each of these sheets in turn and decide whether action is required. 

You may need to talk to the landowner, contact the local authority, or look out for evidence on site to ensure you have identified these sensitivities. 

You can find these factsheets in appendix 4

Tailoring your plan 

Once you’ve identified any sensitivities affecting your site, use the factsheets to help you find where to get further advice and improve the chances of your plan being verified. Make sure you take account of the recommendations of any consultees and if you don’t feel you are able to do this, contact glastirqueries@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk for advice. Ensure you include evidence of how you have accommodated any consultation recommendations when you submit your plan for verification. 

Before you submit your plan, you can use our verification guidance to check you have covered everything that our Glastir officers will be looking for.


Appendix 1

Fact sheets for Areas of Interest

Appendix 2

Fact sheets for Special Guidance Areas

Appendix 3

Fact sheet for additional sensitives to Planting

Appendix 4

Fact sheets for sensitivities not shown on the Woodland Opportunities Map

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