Ancient forest project wins royal approval

Wentwood forest near Newport

A major project to rejuvenate Wales’ largest ancient woodland has won a prestigious award.

The project – a joint initiative between Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) – will make Wentwood forest near Newport an even better place for people, wildlife and the local economy. 

This will create a network of forest conservation projects across the Commonwealth conserving indigenous forests for future generations and helping to address climate change. 

The Queen's Commonwealth Canopy

Now it has been accredited under the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) initiative. 

QCC projects must demonstrate sustainable forest conservation practices and encourage local people to help manage the project where possible. 

Wentwood forest’s location close to Newport means it is an important community woodland enjoyed by people for recreation, is a haven for wildlife and a sustainably managed source of timber.  

NRW and the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) will work with stakeholders and the local community to explore opportunities that will generate more well-being benefits.   

These could include for example recreational activities such as horse-riding & cycling, improving access, and using Wentwood as an open space to improve people’s mental health and well-being. 

Wentwood has a long history of conifer planting dating back to the 1800s. 

It is now a combination of commercial conifer forest and ancient native woodland. 

The challenge now is to restore Wentwood to a more natural state, gradually removing the conifers and converting it back to native broadleaves.  

This will recreate, enhance and then conserve a native woodland supporting a range of species and ecosystem services. 

The project at Wentwood is exceptional because it is one of the largest examples of its type Britain, and the largest in Wales, covering 1,000 hectares. 

Diane McCrea, Chair of Natural Resources Wales said:

 “In partnership with the Woodland Trust, this is an excellent example of our collaborative approach to pursue the sustainable management of natural resources.

“We are committed to restoring Wentwood to a more natural state.

”Working with the local community and others, will make it more resilient to climate change, pests and diseases.

“And it will also enhance a much-loved area of woodland that generates many well-being benefits, supporting opportunities for recreation, access, education and learning.”  

Natalie Buttriss, who has just taken up the post of Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust, said: 

“We’re immensely proud to be the custodians of a significant part of Wales’ largest remaining ancient forest, thanks to the generosity of our supporters. 

“Since we bought the site it’s been our aim to gradually restore it to its former, broad-leaved glory and to demonstrate the benefits of doing this. 

“That’s why I’m so delighted that we’re working with NRW on a landscape scale to restore Wentwood and that the project has been accredited to The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. 

“Together, we can achieve a lot more than either of us could do alone.”  

Wentwood supports a wide range of flora and fauna, including birds such as nightjars, wood warblers and spotted flycatchers, mammals such as dormice and fallow deer, and flora such as wild daffodils, wood sorrel and bluebells. 

Restoring this ancient woodland will help it continue to contribute to the economic, social and cultural well-being of Wales, now and for future generations. 

With its newly acquired status, Wentwood joins forests from across the Commonwealth, from Canada to Australia and the Seychelles, under the umbrella of the QCC.

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