Thomson Ecology has been commissioned to undertake this year’s Ancient Woodland Baseline Surveying for Natural Resources Wales, extending our involvement in this long term monitoring and woodland habitat improvement project.
The Welsh Government Strategy, Woodlands for Wales (WfW), places a high priority on maintaining the native trees and shrubs in our woods. This includes woodlands of high nature conservation value and Planted Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS).
They provide a link to original natural conditions – prior to commercial forestry activities – and are more likely to create or support conditions needed by other woodland species.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has been tasked within the Welsh Government Woodland Estate (WGWE) to take forward restoration programmes of all 19,500ha Ancient Woodlands and PAWS managed areas. Their recovery will be achieved mainly through thinning and site conservation management.
WfW has set targets for 6,000ha to be within “restored” status by 2025.
Thomson Ecology undertook the original Ancient Woodland Baseline Survey in 2011/12. NRW now want to assess how forestry operations, such as thinning, undertaken in 2013/14, have affected the Ancient Woodland indicators such as canopy composition (broadleaf or conifer), native seedlings and saplings, specialist ground flora and threats such as deer browsing and invasive species. We completed a pilot survey in 2015 for this repeat monitoring and NRW have extended this in 2016 so that 5% of the original survey area will be reassessed.
We are currently devising the survey programme to ensure that the 5% target is met with an even distribution of woodlands across the whole of Wales to allow spatial and statistical analysis to be undertaken and comparisons to be made. The surveys will start in June and we look forward to reporting the results.