Plantlife: 1 in 10 woodland flowers in Wales 'at threat of extinction'

Forestry Commission Wales says it is committed to managing sites

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One in 10 woodland flowers is under threat of extinction in Wales, according to a conservation charity.

Plantlife warns that a "radical shift" is needed in the way woodland is looked after to prevent the decline.

It is calling on the Welsh government to refocus on the "quality not the quantity" of woodland in Wales.

The Forestry Commission Wales - the Welsh government's department of forestry - says it is committed to improving management and conservation.

Plantlife says many of the woodlands in Wales are "dark, overgrown and quiet".

FACTORS BLAMED FOR DECLINE

  • A decline in traditional woodland management leading to dark woods
  • Nutrients from atmospheric pollution and agricultural run-off cause woods to be overgrown
  • The wrong trees are being planted in the wrong place leading to the loss of valuable habitats
  • This also leads to the introduction of potentially invasive non-native tree species.

Source: Plantlife

"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," said a spokesperson.

Dr Trevor Dines, the report's author and conservation manager at Plantlife Cymru, said: "Creating 5,000 hectares of new woodland a year is not the answer.

"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," he added.

Forestry Commission Wales (FC) said it recognises the importance of managing existing woodlands better - and encouraging private owners to do likewise.

'Extensive research'

"We are committed to managing sensitive sites for the benefit of biodiversity and the conservation of priority species and habitats," a spokesman said.

Start Quote

We have long promoted the importance of ensuring that the right trees are planted in the right places”

End Quote Forestry Commission Wales

He said native plants were an important component of woodlands in Wales and the FC was already taking positive steps to encourage the growth of wild flowers in the woodlands it manages.

This is done by increasing the level of thinning to allow more light to reach the forest floor, enabling wild flowers to grow.

There is also a commitment to restoring Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) to native woodlands, research into dormouse behaviour in conifer woodlands and Butterfly Conservation, he said.

"We have long promoted the importance of ensuring that the right trees are planted in the right places in order to make our woodlands more resilient to a changing climate.

"We are carrying out extensive research in this area and provided other woodland owners with information on increasing tree species diversity in their woodlands," he added.

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