Ancient woodland at risk is being rescued!


Ancient woodland at risk is being rescued!

Climbing the stone steps up from the banks of the Afon Glaslyn, you soon enter into a land of rushing mountain streams and moss covered boulders, into the Ancient Woodland of Aberglaslyn Woods.

Owned and managed by the National Trust almost half is set within the Meirionnydd Oakwoods Special Area of conservation (SAC).

In the first half of the 20th Century, the oak and birch woodland was largely removed and the site was planted up with fast-growing conifers in plantation.

Today the Douglas fir, Norway spruce, Sitka spruce and Japanese larch tower above the remnants of the what used to be a prime example of Welsh Atlantic Oak woodland.

The site is still considered ancient woodland even though the canopy is vastly different; mature oak, holly and birch still hang on beneath the shade of the conifers, but only just…

Part of the Celtic Rainforest project budget includes funds for the removal of non-native conifers, such as these, which threaten the semi-natural habitat of the SAC through over shading and out competing native broadleaf species as well as spreading their vigorous seed across hotspots of ancient woodland flora.

In late 2018, Adam Thorogood from Coed Cadw surveyed the site and found pockets of ancient woodland habitat, often where the underlying bedrock pokes through the soil, which prevented the establishment of the plantation. Rare ferns such as Wilson’s Filmy Fern cling on in scattered patches on trunks and boulders close to the streams.

Working with project staff from Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) and Dave Smith, National Trust Area Warden, a plan was drawn up to reduce the impact of the conifer plantation and gradually restore the site by opening up the conifer canopy around the remnant broadleaves and fragmented ancient woodland habitat.

A felling licence and consent to carry out works in and adjacent to a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) were sought and granted by Natural Resources Wales.

The local contractor and his team began work on site in late 2019.

Due to lack of vehicle access, there was no way to remove timber from the isolated site. Therefore, the conifers were either felled to recycle, i.e. left on the ground to provide much needed fallen decaying wood, or they were ring barked, far from the footpaths to produce standing decaying wood, creating habitat for insects and hence a source of food for woodland birds.

This much needed work will prevent the loss of this irreplaceable ancient woodland habitat, and ensure future generations can enjoy their splendour.

For further details, enquires and comments please contact the Project Officers at
Telephone: 01766 770274
Address: Snowdonia National Park Authority, National Park Office, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd. LL48 6LF

© 2019 - 2021 Celtic Rainforests Wales. All Rights Reserved

Subscribe to our Newsletter