Major boost for the ‘Celtic rainforest’

One of Europe’s most spectacular oak woodlands is set to become more resilient and rich in wildlife.

Often referred to as a Celtic rainforest due to its humid conditions and wealth of rare wildlife, Ceunant Llennyrch National Nature Reserve (NNR) near Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd has been massively extended.

The original 12-hectare reserve, on one side of the spectacular gorge, is managed by Natural Resources Wales.

Now, the Woodland Trust’s 300 hectares of land on the other side has won NNR status. This land is a mix of woodland and upland habitats, which includes a farm.

The whole area – the size of 400 football pitches - will be managed to conserve and enhance its exceptional qualities by restoring and extending native woodland and bringing upland habitats into good condition.

It’s also an opportunity to improve public access so that more people can experience and benefit from nature at its best.

The woods in the gorge boast more than 200 species of mosses and liverworts, some of which are only recorded in a few sites world-wide.

More than 200 species of lichen live on the tree trunks - making it one of Wales’ richest sites for woodland lichen.

Redstart and wood warblers inhabit the trees, while otters hunt along the river and rare lesser horseshoe bats feed and roost here.

One of the first tasks will be to extend light grazing by sheep across the woodland and introduce cattle grazing on the upland wet heath.

Ungrazed oakwoods tend to have less mosses, liverworts and lichens as they get smothered by long grass, brambles and heather.

Tim Jones, North Wales Director for Natural Resources Wales said:

“This is great news for biodiversity in Wales. It brings a large area of woodland into good conservation management, creating more space for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
“It’s an exciting opportunity that could play a part in promoting green tourism in this part of Snowdonia.”

Natalie Buttriss Director of Wales for the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) says:

“This woodland has been thousands of years in the making. That long history is reflected in the diversity of living things that make their home here.
“We’re looking forward to working in partnership with NRW to manage the area in a joined-up way so that the wooded gorge and its surroundings continues to flourish for generations to come.”

The designation comes after the Woodland Trust’s purchase of Coed Llennyrch and Coed Felinrhyd– to which NRW contributed £50,000 to kick start their fundraising.

The site is a vital part of the Meirionnydd Oakwoods Special Area of Conservation – of European importance for its extraordinary plant and animal life

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