Replanting work has taken place last week at Gethin woodlands, near Merthyr Tydfil, to restock parts of the forest felled to tackle a disease affecting larch trees.
Specialist Welsh contractors planted approximately 50,000 conifer trees, such as spruce and fir, which will be used by the timber industry in future decades.
Approximately 18,000 native trees, a mix of twelve species like oak, birch and cherry, will be planted in the coming months in areas most used by the public to make it a more attractive place to visit.
The contractors plant each individual tree by hand and one worker can plant as many as 3000 conifers in one day.
The work is part of the wider planting programme by Natural Resources Wales as part of their ongoing management of their forests where 3.2 million trees will be planted over the next six months.
Islwyn Jones, leading on the work for Natural Resource Wales, said:
“This disease has, and will continue to have, a dramatic impact on our forests in Wales with many areas still to be felled.
“The felling work is ongoing, but alongside this is our programme to replant areas like Gethin woodland with a mix of broadleaf and conifers for a new generation of forests.
“This more diverse mix will actually benefit us in the future as it will be more resilient to disease and the effects of climate change, and be a more attractive place for people to visit.”
The majority of trees felled at Gethin woodland was due to the ongoing work to tackle a disease affecting larch trees in Wales. The disease, Phytophthora ramorum, has infected approximately 6.7 million larch trees in Wales and kills the tree once it is infected.
To tackle this, Natural Resources Wales has now felled close to 3 million trees to attempt to slow the spread of the disease. The felling also gives the organisation the opportunity to get some financial gain from the trees before it dies.
The disease was first discovered in Wales in 2010 and spread dramatically in 2012/13 due to climatic conditions which saw the area infected double from 3000 hectares to 6000 hectares in less than 12 months.
Gethin woodland is home to Bike Park Wales, a huge mountain bike complex, which draws 50,000 people to the area every year.
“We do ask that people stick to the paths and mountain bike trails in the woodland and avoid newly planted areas to give those trees the best chance of growing into the trees and timber we will need in the future.”