Woodland types in Wales
2 Woodland types in Wales
Woodland composition and area
Woodlands make up more than 13.8% (FC 1997) of the land area of Wales. From a low point of around 103,000 ha in 1924, the total wooded area had increased steadily to over 270,000 ha (FC 1997) by 1998, 110,000 ha or 38% of this is native2 woodland.
unmanaged broadleaved woodlands in Wales are typically of less than 5 ha, and often occupy the steepest land on Welsh farms. Oak, particularly sessile oak, makes up 44% of the total area of broadleaved woodlands (Table 4); the nature of the scale, terrain and ownership of these makes them some of the most challenging woodlands to manage.
Of the total wooded area in Wales 62% is non-native, largely conifer (Table 2), over half of which is spruce (Table 5), originally planted to provide a strategic timber reserve as the nation’s demand for timber during the First and Second World Wars had led to significant clearfelling of the woodland resource. The ‘70s and ‘80s saw an expansion in upland planting by private individuals responding to tax and grant incentives from the Government. Other reasons for planting woodlands include landscaping to provide shelter for stock, eg shelter belts, and public recreation, eg country parks.
Approximately 44% of Welsh woodlands are managed by Forestry Commission Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, and are principally large coniferous plantations. Private estates, landowners and farmers are also significant woodland owners and managers in Wales (see Table 3).
For more information on the National Inventory of Woodland Trees (NIWT) see: http://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/pdf/ niwales.pdf/$FILE/niwales.pdf
In general, broadleaved woodlands in private ownership have received little recent active management3. Their timber
Table 2 Composition of the woodland area in Wales (FC 1997).
Conifers Native2 broadleaf Non-native broadleaf
59% 38% 3%
Forestry or timber businesses
Other public (not FC)
Community ownership or common land
Table 3 Ownership type by area and percentage (FC 1997).
Table 4 Area of UK BAP broadleaved woodland types in Wales (CCW 2003).
Broadleaved woodland covers about 38% (FC 1997) of the total wooded area of Wales. While many are semi-natural woods, they have frequently developed from unmanaged re-growth of areas that were cleared to supply timber in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the
Woodland type Upland oak wood Upland mixed ash wood Wet woodland Lowland beech and yew woodland Lowland mixed deciduous woodland Wales total
Estimated total area (ha) 39,000 17,000 9,000 4,000 12,000 81,000
2 Native woodland is that with 50% or more of the canopy composed of native species. 3 An estimated 23% (42,000 ha) of privately-owned woodland (including conifer) has no obvious management, although 17% (30,000 ha) is grazed (Gilbert J, 2007) and 8% used for game birds.