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Woodland Trust welcomes Welsh Government’s support for a national forest

The Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw) has welcomed a statement by Lesley Griffiths, Wales’ Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, in which she pledged to “accelerate woodland creation” and to progress the First Minister’s commitment to create a new national forest for Wales.

At the same time, she made clear her commitment includes support for agroforestry, the use of trees within farming systems, something that the Woodland Trust has been calling for. The Trust has pointed out that the Welsh Government’s ambitious planting targets could be largely met by modest increases in tree cover on farms across Wales, in the form of a ‘hedges and edges’ scheme, planting more hedges, shelterbelts, riparian strips as part of connected networks of habitat.

The Trust has also welcomed the Minister’s underlining of the importance of protecting ancient and veteran trees. The Minister announced that there would be an opportunity to apply for Glastir Woodland Creation and Restoration Grants by opening a new round of grants including a special grant for replanting areas of woodland that have been felled due to the Phytophthora ramorum tree disease found mostly in non-native larch trees.

The Welsh Government has previously set a target of creating 5,000 hectares of new woodland per year, both to help meet its greenhouse gas targets and also to make the landscape more resilient to climate change.

Coed Aberneint near Dolgellau, one of over 100 woods in Wales in the care of the Woodland Trust (Photo: WTML)
Coed Aberneint near Dolgellau, one of over 100 woods in Wales in the care of the Woodland Trust (Photo: WTML)

A national forest for Wales

Natalie Buttriss, the Woodland Trust’s Director of Wales says: “The Minister is absolutely right in underlining that trees, woodlands and forests are a key part of our landscape. New tree planting can offer us all huge benefits in terms of flood alleviation, health and well-being, soaking up carbon dioxide from the air and providing vital habitats for wildlife. That’s why we are looking into the need for a national forest of some kind, one that local communities as well as Wales as a whole will benefit from. It’s a great opportunity for the wellbeing of future generations, so the Minister’s statement is hugely welcome.”

Sharon Thomas, Wales Outreach Manager with the Woodland Trust says: “At a time when, sadly, there is huge uncertainty around farming in Wales, the Government’s Glastir Woodland Creation scheme offers a great opportunity for farmers and landowners. Glastir Woodland Creation grants can amount to up to £9,000 per hectare and I have advisors that can offer free advice and support in making use of these.”

There’s more about the help that the woodland Trust can offer to landowners online at: woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees

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