What is this on-line viewer for?
The on-line viewer provides a general guide to land managers, and aims to identify areas of Wales which are most suited to new woodland creation using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
A score for woodland creation is shown at a medium scale in green, highlighting the best opportunities at a strategic level for new woodland creation, which is based on data identified to best meet the requirements of Glastir - the Welsh Government’s sustainable land management scheme.
This green scoring layer has been created across all of Wales. However, sensitive areas (such as areas of deep peat, or scheduled ancient monuments) have been ‘erased’ from the scoring layer in order to identify areas which may need further consultation (there are likely to still be suitable woodland creation sites within these other areas).
Some areas of Wales are also covered by further information in the form of guidance layers. For example should red squirrels be present, or should the area be on open access land. Detailed further guidance can be found accompanying these layers.
This viewer should be used in conjunction with glastir woodland creation rules booklet
Forestry is known to affect the acidification of waters, principally due to the ability of forest canopies to capture more acid sulphur and nitrogen pollutants from the atmosphere than shorter types of vegetation. As a result, it is important to manage forestry within vulnerable areas to ensure that the problem is not exacerbated and opportunities for improvement are realised. The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) and its supporting guidelines on forests and water requires that “where new planting or restocking is proposed within the catchments of water bodies at risk of acidification, an assessment of the contribution of forestry to acidification and the recovery process should be carried out; details of the assessment procedure should be agreed with the water regulatory authority” (fc, 2014).
The Forestry Commission’s ‘Managing forests in acid sensitive water catchments’ Practice Guide applies to the areas of the UK that are vulnerable to acidification, which are defined as the catchments of river and lake water bodies identified by the water regulatory authorities as failing or at risk of failing Good Ecological Status due to acidification. Failing water bodies are those where the acidity of out-flowing waters exceeds Water Framework Directive chemical standards for pH or Acid Neutralising Capacity. Any woodland creation within these acid sensitive areas should consider the Practice Guide, and be actioned accordingly.
Woodland Creation on common land may affect access and other rights held by commoners. Erection of fencing to protect trees from grazing and construction of new roads or tracks on common land requires consent from the relevant national authority (Welsh Government) under the Law of Property Act 1925 or the Commons Act 2006. Any works that may impede the exercise of common rights need careful consideration and prior agreement from rights holders and the landowner, if applicable. Approval should be sought prior to making an application for woodland creation grant.
Landowners or managers wishing to apply for woodland creation grants are advised to:
These areas represent the amalgamated character areas of the Registered Historic Landscapes of Outstanding and of Special Interest in Wales. The 58 Registered Landscapes were compiled jointly by Cadw, the Countryside Council for Wales (now part of Natural Resources Wales) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and encompass the physical remains of all aspects of human activities and exploitation in the past both above and below ground, representing a myriad of features and patterns in the landscape that are the result of the activities of the people who used and shaped the land. The further characterisation of the Registered Historic Landscapes was undertaken by the Welsh Archaeological Trusts, who looked in detail at each landscape and divided them into areas of particular character.
In the context of Glastir Woodland Creation these areas show where consultation with the relevant Welsh Archaeological Trust, and Cadw, is required when identifying suitable areas for planting.
National Parks are extensive tracts of country that are protected by law for future generations because of their natural beauty and for the opportunities they offer for open air recreation.
The Parks are living and working landscapes, with an increasing focus on supporting the communities and economic activity that underpin the qualities for which each have been designated. The National Parks have worked closely with Welsh Government to allow the NP area to be included in complete analysis, and not be excluded from the scoring layered system.
Woodland Creation on Open Access land designated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 must ensure that access to the land concerned is not impeded. Existing statutory Rights of Way should not be planted on and informal paths or desire lines should be kept unplanted to allow continued access. All access points to the land should be maintained. Gates or stiles in fencing should be included to allow this access.
From the point of ploughing (including forestry operations which are similar to ploughing) or drilling (including forestry operations which are similar to drilling) any rights of access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act are suspended for 12 months. During that year the owner/occupier could fence the site, but after a year the land returns to being accessible. If the land is also Common Land, the common land legislation with regard to fencing will apply.
If at the subsequent review of Open Access land (which occurs every 10 years) the land is not deemed to be predominantly mountain, moor, heath or down it may be removed from the Open Access Conclusive Map.
Red squirrel populations have declined in recent years and in most places have been completely replaced by the North American grey squirrel. The range of the red squirrel is now restricted to a small number of isolated populations, predominately in mid and north Wales. The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel and inhabits woodlands. Increasing fragmentation and degradation of woodlands and the loss of hedgerows may have led to a decline in red squirrel populations in the past (Gurnell 1987). However, the planting of large areas with conifer trees has provided a habitat that favours red squirrels, although these habitats support lower densities of red squirrels than optimal habitats.
Woodland creation schemes in areas identified as important for red squirrel should therefore take into account measures which maintain the favour of red squirrels, and further documentation is available to elaborate on these measures through the Glastir process.
National surveys have shown that water vole have disappeared from over 90% of their former range in the UK, primarily through loss, degradation and fragmentation of suitable habitat, and predation by American mink but also because of pollution, poisoning and even flooding. Knowledge of water vole distribution in Wales is still limited.
Water vole is a protected Species (Schedule 5, Wildlife & Countryside Act, 1981) and therefore woodland creation schemes in areas identified as important for water vole should include measures to maintain or enhance suitable habitat and special guidance documentation should be sought from the Glastir library.
Woodland in this instance describes any area of land in a rural or urban location which is greater than 0.5 hectares, is wider than 20m at its narrowest point, and has a wooded canopy across at least 20% of its area. Felled areas of woodland are included in this, unless there has been a permanent change of land-use, or the area has not been re-afforested for more than 10 years. The National Forest Inventory (NFI) 2013 was used to show existing woodland in this map, and more information about how the data was created can be found by clicking here.
This layer gives a strategic overview of the areas which have the best opportunities for woodland creation. As a site becomes more suitable for woodland creation i.e. more overlapping GIS layers advocate that woodland creation would benefit the site, then the shade of green becomes darker. Once again, bear in mind that the lighter shade of green will still have areas which should benefit from woodland creation. The datasets used to create the scoring layer are as follows:
This data layer was compiled by the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) and uses 1km grid squares of point source data, as well as road transport data. These inputs are compiled, averaged, and mapped across the UK, and are then split by source category and further split by pollutant. The specific layer used in this project is "Total emissions < PM10", which contains emissions from 2012 using CORINAIR SNAP sensors and measures pollutants in particulate matter of less than 10µm.
Sources of PM10 in the UK include road traffic, industry and power production. Results from numerous investigations of human respiratory and other diseases show consistent statistical associations between human exposure to outdoor levels of PM10 and adverse health impacts. Vegetation intercepts airborne particulate matter (PM10), reducing concentrations in the air, thereby improving air quality. This reduces the amount of PM10 exposure to humans and, in turn, can reduce the incidence of respiratory illness.
Communities First is Welsh Government’s community focussed tackling poverty programme. The programme provides funding for Lead Delivery Bodies within local authority areas known as Communities First Clusters to narrow the economic, education/skills and health gaps between our most deprived and more affluent areas. It has three strategic objectives helping to achieve these outcomes:
NRW identified areas not sensitive to woodland creation. These include habitat land that is not Priority Habitat, such as bracken and upland acid grassland, as well as non-habitat land such as agriculturally improved grassland and refuse tips. Priority Habitat coded '1' is especially suitable for low density planting of native trees to create long-term sustainable woodland habitat.
New Flood Plain Woodland (NFPW)
This dataset was provided by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), via a FCW project developed by Peter Van-Velzen in 2009. Much of Peter’s work is based on the effort and methodology provided by Forest Research’ Samantha Broadmeadow & Tom Nisbet, in their report “Opportunity Mapping for Trees and Floods in Yorkshire & The Humber Conservancy” (Nov.2008). Full acknowledgement goes to the authors for their original work.
The dataset identifies areas of fluvial floodplain and stream riparian zone within Wales where there is potential to create or expand floodplain and riparian woodland for reducing flood risk within urban populations. The NFPW dataset aims to generate a suitability-map identifying areas within Wales where woodland planting is free of constraints and could benefit flood management by reducing flood generation. Reduction of runoff containing sediment and nutrients could also benefit water quality.
Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs)
A Nitrate Vulnerable Zone (NVZ) is designated where land drains and contributes to the nitrate found in “polluted” waters. Polluted waters include:
This noise pollution data was created under the environmental noise directive 2012, calculated using 10m grids at 4m high and measuring decibels (dB). Data is collected at industry sites, as well as roads which have >3million vehicles/yr., and rail networks with >3000 train journeys/yr. The data values represent an average from day, evening, and night and use a scale from 55dB as low, to >75 dB as high.
Trees bring multiple benefits to the built environment, including reducing the urban heat island effect and absorbing air pollution. They have only a limited ability to absorb or scatter noise, but much more significant is their ability to reduce the perception of noise by hiding the noise source from sight and making a place feel more tranquil, both visually and by introducing natural sounds to soften an otherwise purely mechanical soundscape. When the trees are bare in winter these effects are lessened, but at this time of year people are less likely to be outside or to have their windows open. The Trees and Design Action Group, CIRIA and the European HOSANNA project have produced guides to help maximise the benefits brought by urban trees and other forms of vegetation.
Woodland creation to support market and non-market goods (UEA)
These data show optimal planting locations for new woodland and was funded by the Social and Environmental Economic Research (SEER) project, created by the University of East Anglia.
A computer program, The Integrated Model (TIM), linked spatially-explicit environmental valuation models to ascertain the impacts of land use change upon ecosystem services (subject to various constraints e.g. projected climate change). A policy context was established wherein the Welsh Government intended to plant 250,000 ha of new woodland over a 50 year period (i.e. plant 5,000 hectares of new woodland per annum for each year between 2014 and 2063). Planting was simulated at a 2 km resolution (400 ha). Implementation of TIM generated predictions of the impact of proposed future woodlands on agricultural production, timber production, CO2 in the atmosphere and recreational opportunities. Optimal planting locations were identified as those which yielded the greatest net benefits to society across this range of ecosystem services and derived goods.
Woodland Habitat Networks (WHNs)
Habitat networks are woods which are connected enough to function together, with exchange of individuals between woodlands. They are defined by a combination of distance between woods and the ‘permeability’ of the intervening habitat, i.e. how likely woodland species are to be able to move through the intervening habitat.
We’re suggesting that the layers be used to achieve more robust woodland networks through ranking/prioritisation of the layers. This will identify where money is best spent or where it should be spent first but, most importantly, should influence the design of the capital grants aimed at improving silvicultural regime and encouraging certain types of replanting ie targeted grant supported activity to improve woodland ecosystem health and overall resilience.
Each network was considered individually with OS 1:25,000 base maps and aerial photos as a backdrop, and edited to remove any inappropriate areas for this exercise. Areas were then extended to fill obvious gaps between networks so that larger-scale connectivity might be encouraged, and around very restricted habitat types, e.g. floodplain woodland, to promote their expansion.