Back in June this year the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) launched ambitious plans to create 165 acres of new native woodland on land above Gnoll Country Park in Neath. Five months later, following a successful fundraising appeal, the first trees were planted at the site on Saturday 30 November.

The land needed for the new woodland was offered for sale in two parcels, Brynau and Preswylfa. While the Trust has now completed on the first, the second is still in the process of conveyancing.

Chris Matts, who now manages the site for the Woodland Trust explains: “We’ve had a brilliant response to our fundraising appeal. We’re really grateful to everyone who supported it. The project can now move ahead. The Woodland Trust called on everyone across the UK to plant a tree as part of our Big Climate Fightback campaign on 30 November. We were really keen to give people in Neath the chance to take part, so we planted a small area of new woodland on the site on that day. And while the number of places at this event was limited, we invited visitors to Gnoll Country Park on that day to give us their views on how the new woodland should be created, what it should look like and even what it should be called.”

150,000 native trees

The 150,000 native trees that the Woodland Trust eventually hopes to plant at Brynau will buffer and protect the small area of ancient wood that already exists there, linking it to the surrounding landscape with new hedges, and of course fighting the effects of climate change by purifying the air, locking up carbon and soaking up excess water which would otherwise run down the hills and contribute to flooding risk in Neath below. The tree planting the Trust aims to undertake across the whole site would capture over 23,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and lock up the carbon in their wood.

Another, novel element of the plan is that parts of the land are now being grazed by a small herd of seven heritage Welsh White cattle, an ancient breed. They will play a key role in increasing the biodiversity of the site, by helping to establish and maintain areas of wood pasture beneficial to lower plant life species. Brynau Wood will become their main home.

Flagship site

The new planting will become the latest flagship site for the Plant! project – the Welsh Government’s commitment to plant a tree for every child born or adopted in Wales, delivered through Natural Resources Wales in partnership with The Woodland Trust. Since 2014 an additional tree is also planted for each child in Uganda through the environmental charity Size of Wales. Each child’s family receives a letter and certificate detailing where their child’s tree is planted and hopefully many of them will make the journey to Neath to see the wood for themselves one day.

Brynau is not open to the general public yet while the Trust completes all its health and safety activity, but will post information on its website and social media, @CoedCadw and Woodland Trust Cymru on Facebook, when these are complete.   

-Ends-

Notes to editors
For media enquiries please contact Rory Francis (PR and Campaigns Manager Wales): 0343 770 5738 or 07539 322678 roryfrancis@woodlandtrust.org.uk or the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 / media@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 28,700 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). It offers free public access to nearly all of its sites. The Trust’s Welsh language name, 'Coed Cadw', is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.