Published Research – Brechfa Forest Garden .
Brechfa Forest has been designated as one of the 10 exemplar sites for the development of a National forest of Wales. The planting records for the current forest, as well as the research opportunities provided by the Forest Garden provide a useful resource for landowners, community groups and policy makers working in the area of responding to climate change by the planting of trees.
Like the New Forest and the Forest of Dean, Brechfa Forest is a modern state managed forest which builds on the tradition of management of the forest over the previous centuries by the community. Throughout the first world war Brechfa Forest provided both the timber needed for the trenches, but also oil for lights and chemicals obtained by processing saplings .
While the Forestry Commission was established immediately after the first world war in 1919 to establish forests on agricultural land to expand timber production, our forest continued to be commercially run. In the late 1920’s the forest was privatised by the Labour Government as part of a program of creating Labour Camps in response to the Great Depression and renamed to Brechfa Forest. Longer term unemployed men from the South Wales Valleys were required to live in camps and undertake the work of building the forest roads and planting trees to be eligable for state benefits for themselves and their families as part of a program of supporting the long term unemployed back into work. One of the benefits of this period is the existence of the records for the establishment of the >modern forest site.
Forest Research (FR) took over the management of the site in 1982 and work was undertaken to clear neglected plots, brash trees and open up access paths. For a number of years after that the plots were assessed research staff as funds permitted. A number of mensuration sample plots were established in 1982 to provide more detailed information on the yield of some of the less common species. FR continued to manage the site until the early 2000s after which the Forest District staff assumed overall responsibility. Two mensuration plots are still maintained and measured by FR – Macedonian Pine (Pinus Puce) and Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens), a third – Western Hemlock (Tsuga Heterophylla) has been removed.
This article describes the site, history and establishment of the plots of Brechfa Forest Garden when they were 40-years-old.The status and health of all species is described and mensuration data are given for 22 species. Growth rates were generally high, with a number of species (Abies grandis, A. procera,
Sequoia sempervirens, Thuja plicata and Tsuga heterophylla) having estimated general yield classes of more than 20. These plots provided the first published British growthdata for A. homolepis, A. veitchii, Picea koyamai, P. mariana and Quercus canariensis. The future of the plots is discussed.
While the Forestry Commission managed Brechfa Forest, this leaflet for the Forest Garden was produced, the leaflet is now out of print.
Plot condition surveys continue to be undertaken every decade on average, a summary of the survey results on each species is listed in the page for each species from the plot list
The Forest Research team have produced an objectives and policy plan on behalf of the Forest District with recommendations on how to maintain the collection and continue with the objectives for the site, but at present plans relating to the National Forest of Wales have yet to be announced.