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Forestry Recommissioned?

Urgent call to bring Wales’ neglected woodlands back to life

May 21 2012

Narrow-leaved helleborine, one of Wales' threatened woodland flowers © Trevor Dines/Plantlife

Narrow-leaved helleborine, one of Wales' threatened woodland flowers © Trevor Dines/Plantlife

1 in 10 woodland flowers is under threat of extinction in Wales, whilst there has been a dramatic decline in woodland wildlife.

These are the stark findings of a Plantlife report published today which warns that our woodland flora and wildlife will continue their alarming decline without a radical shift in the way we care for our woods.

Wales’s woodlands are exceptional; certain woodlands in Wales are of global importance. Yet, if you go down to the woods today you will find many of them dark, overgrown and quiet. From orchids to mosses, lichens to bellflowers, one in ten woodland plants is threatened with extinction in Wales. As our woodland flora declines, so does the other wildlife it supports: the Woodland Bird Indicator is at its lowest level in Wales since 1970, whilst the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme has shown a 56% decrease in characteristic woodland butterflies.

Plantlife’s vision to bring Welsh woodlands back to life is detailed in our new report, Forestry Recommissioned. Whilst supporting the targeted creation of new woodland to link fragmented ancient woodland, the organisation is urging government to refocus on the quality not the quantity of woodland in Wales.

‘Creating 5,000 hectares of new woodland a year is not the answer’ says Dr. Trevor Dines, author of the report and conservation manager at Plantlife Cymru. ‘We have more woodland today than we did 20 years ago and yet our woodland flora and fauna continues its seemingly inexorable decline. We need to look at what’s happening to our woodlands, rather than blindly continuing to plant more.’

Plantlife has identified 3 key factors contributing to this ‘perfect storm’ of deterioration:

1. A decline in traditional woodland management is making our woods dark.
2. The ever-increasing nutrient load from atmospheric pollution and agricultural run-off is cause for major concern, is making our woods overgrown. .
3. The wrong trees are being planted in the wrong places, leading to the loss of valuable habitats and the introduction of potentially invasive non-native tree species.

For more information about the report or interviews please contact Trevor Dines on 07789 685 635 or email

For more images or a PDF of the report, please contact Justina Simpson on 07833 700 177 or email