The Woodland Trust has said there is a clear need for “resilient woodland” in the UK, after beginning an operation to fell 200 hectares of Welsh trees.
Wentwood Forest, Wales’ most ancient forest, will see a fifth of its 1,000 hectare woodland cut down because of the disease phytophthora ramorum. Colloquially known as ‘sudden oak death’, it can cause widespread damage and mortality in trees, according to the Forestry Commission.
The Woodland Trust claims that only 2% of the UK is covered in ancient woodland, and that damaged sites make up half of this figure.
Andrew Sharkey, head of woodland management, said, “This is the most serious and devastating action we’ve had to take on our estate because of tree disease and it again highlights both the need to tackle tree disease and the importance of restoring as much of our damaged ancient woodland as possible to make it more resilient in decades to come.”
Due to a lack of woodland replenishment grants in Wales, the operation is expected to cost around £35,000, with the Woodland Trust footing the bill.
Natural Resource Wales, which also owns part of Wentwood Forest, has said that it will invest £500,000 in attempting to prevent the spread of the disease, with a further £2m set aside for future investment.