Locations across Wales have been earmarked as “exemplar sites” for the National Forest – a connected network of forests which will span the length of Wales.

Announced in the spring, the National Forest will be a long-term project matching the scale and ambition of the Wales Coast Path, linking together a network of woodlands across Wales.

As well as improving existing woodlands to meet the National Forest standard, plans will also see more trees planted by Welsh Government in collaboration with partners such as communities, farmers, foresters and public bodies.

Along with providing spaces for leisure and nature, new managed woodlands created for the National Forest will also help to capture and store carbon – and the timber will provide a sustainable resource for construction.

The 14 new sites are part of the Welsh Government estate, and are managed and maintained by Natural Resources Wales.

They are at:

• Gwydir Forest Park

• Clocaenog Forest

• Coed y Brenin Forest Park

• Dyfnant Forest

• Dyfi Forest

• Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest

• Hafren Forest

• Coed y Bont/Coed Dolgoed

• Presteigne forests

• Brechfa Forest

• Afan Forest Park

• Spirit of Llynfi Woodland

• Wentwood

• Wye Valley Woodland

Alongside establishing the National Forest, earlier this year also saw Welsh Government launched a new window of the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme, with a fourfold increase in the budget to £8million.

A further £9m window of the scheme will also open this month, leading to more than £17m allocated to woodland creation this year – the largest such allocation since devolution, and more than the first eight windows of the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme put together

Rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I am delighted to announce the very first sites which will form part of our National Forest.

“They are among the very best woodland in Wales, and will serve as exemplars for the benefits we would expect from other sites and new woodlands before they could become part of the National Forest."

Welsh nature and wildlife broadcaster Iolo Williams has also recorded a short video to mark the announcement for the Natural Forest, showing his support.

Also announced today is the first project to be backed by the Community Woodlands programme – a Wales-wide initiative run jointly by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Welsh Government,

Craig Gwladus Woods, in Neath, will receive a £125,000 grant via the Community Woodlands programme – as part of a larger £155,000 grant package with further support from Natural Resources Wales.