New woodland takes root in Snowdonia

Aerial view of four rangers planting tree saplings with guards in a wet field with Moel Hebog and woodland in the distance
Published : 30 Mar 2021 Last update : 29 Mar 2021

Rangers have been busy planting a mix of 8,500 native trees at Hafod Garegog, near Porthmadog to establish 8ha of new woodland which will help boost wildlife and store more carbon, to help tackle climate change.

The land, at Hafod Garegog near Porthmadog, is very flat, silty and sandy, and is currently covered in rushes which is poor in biodiversity.  The land was grazed in the past, but due to the constant battle with flooding, would now require a lot of drainage and rush management to make it suitable for farming once again.

By planting a native woodland, the aim is to improve its value for wildlife, providing a home creatures such as warblers, moths, bats and nearby otter. The site borders a National Nature Reserve with lots of ancient trees, so this new area will also act as a buffer and enhance that habitat for wildlife too.

David Smith, Lead Ranger for South Snowdonia, National Trust says: “Before the Cob was built at Porthmadog in 1811, this land would have been under the sea, it’s still very wet and susceptible to flooding. We’ve chosen to plant a mixture of native tree species which can deal with wet conditions such as aspen, black poplar, willow, birch and hornbeam. 

Ranger inspecting tree saplings
Close up of Ranger inspecting tree samplings with rows of planted trees in guards behind and Moel Hebog in the distance
Ranger inspecting tree saplings

 “Trees need a tremendous amount of water – and if you plant thirsty trees in boggy areas which are notorious for flooding you can purposefully slow the flow of water to protect habitats and housing downstream – and create the right sort of environment that animals such as many insects, birds and bats love,” adds David.

The trees are currently a foot tall and should be well established in 3-5 years, when we can look at reintroducing some grazing. 

Elsewhere, where we can’t remove grazing animals, we’re going to plant some taller trees that will be resilient to the presence of sheep and cows.

To ensure a supply of local trees, a local tree nursery has been set up where the taller trees are being grown.

David concluded: “Trees of local provenance are very difficult to get hold of, and we are taking extreme care not to import new diseases like ash dieback.

“Our hope is that we can grow and supply all our sites across North Wales that are embarking on tree planting projects over the next few years. 

“Our ambition is to eventually grow 20,000 trees a year on National Trust land.  This year, we should have around a 1,000 trees to kick things off.”

The tree planting at Hafod Garegog is part of our commitment to plant and establish 20 million trees across England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2030 to help tackle climate change and create new homes for nature.