Time is running out for ancient woodland

Ancient woods and trees are being lost across the UK at an alarming rate. Even here in Wales infrastructure projects are being proposed that will destroy and damage woods and trees that are centuries old. The government can act to stop this.

From the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station (threatening three ancient woods), to road building schemes such as the M4 around Newport (which will harm four ancient woods) and the A55 in Flintshire (threatening one ancient woodland, pictured above), our most precious woods and trees face a fight for their future.

Stand up for ancient woods and trees

This autumn we need to take a stand. We need to tell our environment minister, Lesley Griffiths AM, and our infrastructure minister, Ken Skates AM, that the loss of ancient woods and trees should not be happening; in other words that the Welsh Government should be properly following and enforcing its own planning policy.

Why is the Woodland Trust focusing on pushing the government to protect old woods rather than planting new woodland?

Planting new woodland is very important, but at the same time we must protect the ancient woodland we have here in Wales.

Ancient woods are our richest land-based habitat for wildlife. They are home to more threatened species than any other, and represent the last fragments of the wildwood that once cloaked Wales after the last Ice Age. Today, ancient woodland makes up less than 5% of the land area of Wales.

Why is the Woodland Trust targeting two ministers in the Welsh Assembly?

We are asking you to write to Lesley Griffiths AM, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, and Ken Skates AM, the Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, because they have the power to deliver true protection for ancient woods and trees in Wales.

While ancient woodland protection does exist here in Wales through Planning Policy Wales, we are still witnessing its regular loss in practice. These two ministers’ departments are in charge of areas of government that can solve this problem, be it via careful consideration of a new infrastructure project, enforcement of existing protections and ensuring the preservation of ancient woodland is at the heart of future policy decisions such as the National Development Framework for Wales.

Why is current protection for ancient woodland not working in Wales?

The Welsh Assembly has written the principle of maintaining the natural environment into law through the Well-being of Future Generations Act, and via Planning Policy Wales it is clear that ancient woodland should be protected.

The problem is very much about both respecting and in turn delivering on these existing planning protections. All too often the perceived benefits and economic gains of an infrastructure project are prioritised over ancient woodland loss.

This situation is made worse by the Welsh Government proposing infrastructure schemes that involve ancient woodland destruction, setting a poor example for developers to follow.

Is there anything else I can do to help the Woodland Trust in Wales?

Yes. Unlike our castles and stately homes, ancient and other special trees in Wales are not properly protected. These trees are natural history, and play an important part in our landscape and our heritage even today.

A national register will help to classify, celebrate, and protect each of Wales’ Trees of National Special Interest for the rest of their days. It will also help landowners properly care for these incredible trees by allowing them to access more support through grants and specialist advice. You can support this call here.

What will happen at the end of the campaign? And when can we expect results?

If this is your first campaign action with the Woodland Trust, we hope this will be the first of many. As well as receiving an introductory email to the Trust, you can expect to be asked to support other targeted campaign actions when we need your help most.

What happens next in Wales depends upon the government’s response. If it announces positive action to stop ancient woodland loss our response will be different than if we receive a negative reply. Either way we will be sure to keep you updated via our monthly campaigns newsletter of all the latest happenings.

Should I expect a response to my letter from the ministers, and what should I do if I receive one?

We would expect you to receive a response from the ministers. How specific the response is likely to depend upon exactly what you say in the letter we have created for you to edit. In our experience the more personalised the message the more likely you are to receive a personal response.

How will the Woodland Trust use my details? Will you send me information about the progress of this campaign or others I can get involved with?

The Woodland Trust will not share your details with third parties or use them for any purpose other than what you have agreed to in taking this action. If you have ticked the box saying we can contact you again, we will let you know about future threats to ancient woodland in your area and campaigns you can get involved in.

What will my donation be used for?

Any donation you make to the Trust will help us in achieving our organisational objectives of protecting ancient woodland, restoring damaged ancient woodland and planting new woodlands to help create a more resilient landscape for our natural environment. Both people and wildlife will benefit.

Will my action do anything to save ancient woods from the M4 corridor around Newport or is it too late for them? Is there anything else I can do? Chain myself to one of the trees, perhaps?

Policy action by these ministers is almost certain to help save many ancient woods across Wales. In this instance we are unlikely to see the government withdraw their proposals for the M4 corridor around Newport, but we are hopeful of a positive outcome via the public inquiry.

In terms of direct action, we do not advocate this to save ancient woods and trees. We need to improve the system as a whole and this is best achieved through debate and dialogue.

Please help more people get involved by spreading the word - here's the link to use: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/save or make sure you share using the social buttons on the next page.

I'm standing up for ancient woods and trees


messages already sent


Below is a suggested letter you can personalise to voice your concerns. Your letter will go to Lesley Griffiths AM (Environment) and Ken Skates AM (Infrastructure). If these ministers act on your concerns they can save hundreds of ancient woods and trees.

Your details

Welsh Government
Welsh Government