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Over the coming weeks, Coed Cadw Woodland Trust had planned to run a series of events to give local people the chance to have their say on how the charity moves forward with its new wood, Brynau Wood, next to Gnoll Country Park in Neath.

Sadly, the face-to-face events have had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. But, undeterred, the charity is pushing ahead with consultation online, hoping that this will give local people something to look forward to when lockdown is over.

Llinos Humphreys, communications and engagement manager for the Trust in Wales says:

“If the lockdown has had any upside, then maybe it’s helped us all appreciate nature on our own doorsteps a bit more. Those of us who have beautiful, natural places within easy reach are incredibly lucky. So we hope that the new Brynau Wood that we’re creating will be a huge asset for the local community. But if we’re to make the most of the opportunity, we need to know what people want and hear their suggestions.”

Anyone can take part in the consultation online, in English or Welsh.

What is most important to you in a wood?

The questionnaire asks people what features are most important to them in a wood, such as wildlife, easy-to-follow waymarked routes or tranquillity, peace and quiet. It gives examples of features that could be provided, such as natural sculptures, wildlife observation points or natural play features and asks which people would value most. It asks what sort of organised events people would most like to see at the site, suggesting nature walks, storytelling and heritage and history walks. Finally, the questionnaire asks if people have any memories of, or information on the history of, Brynau Wood and if there is anything else people feel that the Woodland Trust should know to help shape the interpretation and development of the site.

Thanks to funders, some 150,000 native trees will be planted over the next five years to create a new, large woodland next to the Gnoll Country Park. The site, currently called Brynau after the small area of ancient wood that already exists there, will link the surrounding landscape with new hedges and small patches of existing woodland.  Once completed, the new woodland (the size of some 100 rugby pitches) will be accessible to the public and within an hour’s journey of more than 600,000 people in South Wales.

Plant!

The new planting at Brynau will also 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.

The planting at Neath is part of a £1.25 million project by Nationwide Building Society, in partnership with the Woodland Trust. With the Trust, Nationwide is planting 60,000 trees and creating several new woods across the country. It has already created woodland at Ballathie Woods in Scotland, Hedley Hall woods near Durham and Pack Hill near its headquarters in Swindon.

Lynn Forrester, social investment manager at Nationwide, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Woodland Trust to create this new woodland. As a mutual, we want to do the right thing for our members, employees and wider society, so our woodland creation programme is helping us reduce our environmental impact and provide long lasting benefits to local communities for generations to come.”

Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact:

Rory Francis, PR and campaigns manager Wales, on 0343 770 5738, 07539 322678 or roryfrancis@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Or the Woodland Trust press office on 01476 581121 or 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:

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. 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 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees. The Trust’s Welsh language name, Coed Cadw, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.