Welsh farmers prepare to get tree planting

Farmers and landowners across Wales are preparing to take the opportunity to plant trees and areas of woodland on their land, following an announcement on planting grants by the Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans earlier this month. And Coed Cadw (Woodland Trust) is keen to offer free support and advice.

On 11 February the Deputy Minister announced that £2.3m will be made available towards Glastir Woodland Creation Grants. She also said she would announce a window for expressions of interest for this within the next month. It is now understood that this will be between 30 March and 29 April.

On many farms, areas of new woodland, including shelter belts, can be established without reducing farm incomes. The grants payable can include payments for new fencing, at £3.48 per metre and can amount to over £9,000 a hectare. The minimum area is just one quarter of a hectare (0.6 acre), which may be made up of smaller blocks of 0.1 ha (¼ acre) upwards.

Tree planting a practical solution for one farmer

One farming couple who are keen to take up these grants is Kitty Rowe and Jan de Klein from Llwynygroes near Lampeter. They are keen to plant around 7ha of their 30 hectare farm, Pantyrhwch. This was a dairy farm until 1998 and has since been used to graze sheep and cattle.

Mr de Klein explains:

“There’s about 7 ha of the farm that is north facing and that has always been very damp. The soil there is thin and during last autumn and winter I saw a lot of mud being washed away, so it’s lost some of its fertility. We think that planting trees on this land is a practical solution.  I would hope this will increase the water retention and in the long term, increase the fertility. Trees don't take a lot of looking after but they should produce a valuable crop of firewood, but maybe for my children and grandchildren to harvest rather than myself."

“I like trees and it would be good to see a corridor of treed land all the way down to the river, increasing the biodiversity enormously. My daughter has a tourism business, and if this helps create a more attractive landscape for her guests to enjoy, so much the better. I’m very grateful to Alison Wheeler , our agent, who generously shared her knowledge and experience with us and was inspirational.”

“Good commercial sense”

Coed Cadw is keen to encourage landowners to take up these grants because of the wider environment benefits more trees on farms offer to the wider community.

Paula Keen, Woodland Creation Manager for the charity in South Wales says:

“As well as making good commercial sense for the farmer, providing shelter for livestock as well as timber or firewood, the right trees in the right places can offer huge environmental benefits. They can provide a valuable habitat for wildlife, absorb carbon dioxide from the air, protect the water quality in rivers and streams and help reduce flood risk.”

Once the window for expressions of interest in Glastir Woodland Creation opens, landowners will have a few weeks to submit a broad outline of their plans, which can be worked out in more detail if they are successful. It is expected that there will be further windows for applications between now and 2020.

Coed Cadw is offering free advice to any landowner interested in taking up these grants on 0330 333 5303 or plant@woodlandtrust.org.uk