TREE felling at a popular Ledbury recreation spot has been described as a "stark wake-up call" by a regular visitor.

Edd Hogan, of Ledbury, described seeing the result of Forestry England work in Conigree Wood, where he goes for walking and trail running, as "horrific".

The Forestry Commission agency said new trees would be planted in the area, which is between The Bullen and Eastnor, to replace the conifers and that "harvesting is an important part of sustainable forest management".

Mr Hogan said: "Forestry England recently consulted Ledbury and district residents about the future management of Frith Wood and Conigree Wood which overlook Ledbury and provide valuable outdoor recreation space for many.

"The images show that as much as 90 per cent of the trees over a wide area have been felled leaving a distinctly-changed landscape.

"A bridleway runs through the area felled so there is work to do to repair and reinstate this.

"The report shows that most of what we know to be Conigree Wood will disappear in the next 20 years.

"When you see something on paper and then in reality, it's a bit of a stark wake-up call. It's horrific."

A Forestry England spokesperson said: “Harvesting trees is an important part of sustainable forest management.

"The felling at Conigree has been completed in line with the 2021-2031 Forest Plan which was consulted on before being approved in September 2021.

"The felling of mature Norway Spruce was done in line with the Government's ‘Keepers of Time’ policy for restoring ancient woodland to native tree species and ground flora.

"The sustainably-grown timber produced from this operation will go to local sawmills and be converted into building materials that will store the carbon dioxide collected over the last 60 years as houses.

"The site will be planted with native broadleaf species once the branch wood from the previous trees has been raked into wildlife habitat piles.

"The native trees still on site will be left as they are to grow on to maturity allowing the site to store carbon dioxide and provide valuable wildlife habitat into the future.

"All rutting caused by machinery to extract the timber will be reinstated once it has dried out a bit.

"The bridleway is open and passable at the moment. Once the timber is removed from site, we will deal with the felling residue. The bridleway will be left clear and in good condition."

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