THE FIRST MINISTER has announced the planned locations of Wales’ first commemorative woodlands to remember all those who have died during the pandemic.

The first two woodlands will be created on part of the National Trust Cymru’s Erddig Estate in Wrexham and at a site identified by Natural Resources Wales at Brownhill in the Tywi Valley in Carmarthenshire.

A third memorial woodland will be created in South East Wales – a site is currently being identified.

The memorial woodlands will be a symbol of Wales’ resilience during the pandemic and one of regeneration and renewal as the new woodlands grow.

It is hoped they will be places of commemoration where families and friends can remember lost loved ones.

They will also be locations where the public will be able to reflect on the pandemic and the impact it has had on all our lives.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It has been almost two years since the coronavirus pandemic hit Wales.

“Too many people have been taken too soon by this awful virus. We will remember all of them and keep them in our hearts and our minds.

“These woodlands will be a permanent and living memorial to all those who have died. They will also be a symbol of the strength the people of Wales have shown over the past two years.”

The woodlands will be planted with a range of tree species, making them resilient to our changing environment.

Planting is expected to begin this year.

Natural Resources Wales and National Trust Cymru will work with local communities and families to plan and design the woodlands.

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said: “Our forests and woodlands are powerful, poignant symbols of life, helping to enhance our environment and biodiversity and providing space for recreation and reflection.

“Our ambition for this commemorative woodland is for it to become a living, growing area for all the community to enjoy, as well as a quiet space for contemplation as we continue to navigate this most challenging of times.

“As part of the journey, we want to engage with local communities and our partners to plan and design the woodland, shaping with them safe and accessible spaces, where people of all ages can come to remember and reflect for years to come.”

We expect the sites to become part of the National Forest for Wales in the future, with opportunities for local communities to help shape the management of the woodland.

Justin Albert, Director, National Trust Cymru said: “For over 125 years, the National Trust has provided places for people to connect with nature, beauty and fresh air. This has felt as relevant over the last two years as it has in any time in our history: knowing that nature has been hugely comforting to many during the pandemic, bringing both pleasure and reassurance as all other aspects of our lives changed.

National Trust Cymru are proud to support the Welsh Government in creating one of the commemorative woodlands for Wales at Erddig. We look forward to collaborating with communities and partners to create a special place in memory of those lost to coronavirus. The woodland will be for remembrance and reflection, but also to provide a future green space for everyone to continue that much needed, beneficial connection with the natural world for ever.”