Forestry Commission Wales has begun to remove a number of illegally constructed mountain bike jumps and trail features in the Foel Fynyddau area of Afan Forest.
The area, known locally as The Foel, or The Masts, is also home to well established wildlife habitats and ancient monuments, one of which has been damaged as a result of the construction.
The Afan Valley is one of the UK’s most popular areas for mountain biking, with more than 100km of trails.
Forestry Commission Wales mountain bike ranger Howard Sims said: ”Forestry Commission Wales is not restricting riding in the area. We welcome mountain bike riders using the forest trails and natural landscape. We are only restricting the illegal construction of technical trail features, such as ramps and jumps.”
He added: ”A notice was posted in the area giving the people who constructed the illegal technical trail features 20 days to contact us. No-one has done so and now we have no choice but to demolish them.
“Official mountain bike trails in the area are carefully designed and maintained. We also inspect them regularly and make improvements wherever we can.
“Removing the illegally technical trail features is a time-consuming and costly task. The time and money spent dealing with this issue detracts from the management of the official trails in the Afan Valley.”
Another issue raised is that some of the trails have been built on leasehold land for which users do not have a right of access, while health and safety concerns have forced the government department to take action.
Forestry Commission Wales local area manager James Roseblade commented: “We are concerned about the risk of injury to people using the area.
“Some parts of these illegally constructed features are in areas which are scheduled forest operations sites. The larger operational vehicles, including the timber haulage wagons, have limited visibility and there is a clear safety issue here.
“Unauthorised and illegal trail features are not included in our records of the area. Forestry Commission Wales is working hard to ensure that the area is safe for removing trees. If we can’t see mountain bike users, we can’t ensure their safety.”