South East Wales

Concern over Cwmcarn Forest Drive road closure for tree felling

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Media captionAround 400 acres of forestry in Caerphilly is affected

Campaigners are urging officials to reverse a decision to shut a popular forest road in south Wales despite work needed to fell 150,000 trees.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) says larch trees at Cwmcarn Forest Drive in Caerphilly must come down from November to halt the spread of a fungal disease.

The seven-mile drive will close but its bike and walking trails, play areas and visitor centre will remain open.

A drop-in session explaining the decision was held on Sunday.

NRW says 162 hectares (400 acres) of the forestry in Caerphilly county is infected or at risk of the untreatable disease Phytophthora ramorum.

Work to remove them is expected to take until 2018.

But some have criticised the decision, with more than 1,900 people signing an e-petition on the Welsh government's website concerned the drive might never reopen.

'Questions'

NRW has said more than two million larch - a third of those infected - have been felled to slow the spread of the disease.

Regional land manager Andy Schofield said it had arranged drop-in sessions at the site to allay people's concerns.

"We also want to reassure people that our long term aim for this forest is to restore and improve the area so it can remain a fantastic attraction and continue to play an important role for the people and the economy in the area," he said.

The long-term plan is to replant other trees on the site once the ground is ready and to eventually reinstate the road.

But NRW has said this would require "significant investment" which it could not commit to at this time.

In August the Welsh government listed the forest drive and visitor centre in the top 10 most popular free attractions in Wales.

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