"Years of tree planting work undone" by Welsh forest fire

Tens of thousands of newly planted trees have been destroyed by extensive woodland fires in South Wales, according to Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Image: NRW
Image: NRW

The fires, apparently started deliberately in Cwmcarn Forest, Monmouthshire on 13 July, have destroyed up to 250 hectares of woodland, and claimed "tens of thousands of newly planted trees, undoing years of work and investment by NRW", the agency said.

Large areas of the forest were being replanted with native broadleaf species alongside timber-producing conifers following extensive felling of the previous larch trees to combat the spread of Phytophthora ramorum.

Helicopters, drones, excavators and tractors have all been used to combat what NRW called the "unprecedented" blaze, as part of the multi-agency response that included NRW, South Wales Fire and Rescue (SWFR) and Gwent Police.

The fire has now been extinguished and NRW staff continue to monitor smaller smouldering areas of the woodland and have taken actions to prevent ash runoff polluting local streams.

NRW's head of South East Wales operations Steve Morgan said: "We have been working extra hard the last few years to plant a mix of broadleaf trees and conifers to replace the woodland lost by disease.

"It is heartbreaking to see so much of it destroyed by what appears to be a thoughtless act."

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