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Sustainable Land Use for Future Generations

It is now vital that we care for our environment, protect our soils and restore our nature. Around 75% of the UK is managed for food production. We must now implement environmental farming and land management to secure a positive future for our children and all generations to come.

Creating a sustainable land use policy in Wales  (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)
Creating a sustainable land use policy in Wales (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)

Around 75% of the UK is managed for food production. How we manage this land moving forward is highly important. Given the right guidance and assistance a ‘Sustainable Land Use Policy’ can complement Wales’ deeply valued environment and assist with a more sustainable local economy.

Sustainable Land Use event – Pierhead building, Cardiff bay

Coed Cadw – Woodland Trust asked the Welsh Government to urgently implement a ‘Sustainable Land Use Policy’. Given the right guidance and assistance a ‘Sustainable Land Use Policy’ can complement Wales’ deeply valued environment and assist with a more sustainable local economy. How and why should we implement this now?

Key speakers:
• 
Mike Hedges AM – Chair of Senedd CCERA
•  Hannah Blythyn – Welsh minister for the environment
•  Natalie Buttriss – Coed Cadw’s newly appointed director of Wales
•  Professor Terry Marsden – Environmental Policy and Planning
•  Abi Reader – South Wales, dairy farmer

Key speaker Hannah Blythyn – Welsh minister for the environment (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)
Key speaker Hannah Blythyn – Welsh minister for the environment (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)

An opportunity

Brexit poses significant challenges, but it provides an opportunity to re-shape our policies for better, more integrated sustainable land management to deliver a more secure future. If good practice is implemented now, we have a chance to restore our landscapes, nature and soil that feed us. In the UK we are losing 2.9m tonnes of topsoil every year; during heavy flooding it can turn our coastal waters brown. Soil fertility is being lost, whilst carrying many agricultural pollutants with it. 20% of all impact on species populations was down to 'intensive management of agricultural land'. Over the last 50 years, 56% of species have declined, while 15% are at risk of disappearing. However, working with farmers and wildlife-friendly farming schemes can help reverse this loss of nature and soils.

Why protect and grow more trees?

Trees can retain, filter and increase water absorption by up to 60 times, vastly reducing flood risks. They prevent soil erosion whilst boosting soil fertility and store carbon whilst sheltering and protecting livestock. They support vital food pollinators and support pest management, providing habitat for an abundance of species. Trees also provide a diversity of ‘product’ as income. To increase tree cover is to enhance our communities, improving our health and wellbeing. They can reduce stress and pollution, whilst cooling our urban environment. This all contributes massively to Wales’ local economy, making it more attractive to us and tourism of all kinds.

Natalie Buttriss – Coed Cadw’s newly appointed director of Wales (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)
Natalie Buttriss – Coed Cadw’s newly appointed director of Wales (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)

We believe

We believe that by protecting and growing more trees, in the right place, it will address many issues that we face going forward. Trees contribute considerably to the aspirations of the Welsh Government’s ‘The Well-being of Future Generations Act’. There is real urgency in adapting to and reducing the effects of climate change, species collapse, the loss of our soils and its ability to feed us.

Natalie Buttriss – Coed Cadw’s newly appointed director presents a 2,385-named petition from supporters to Mike Hedges AM  (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)
Natalie Buttriss – Coed Cadw’s newly appointed director presents a 2,385-named petition from supporters to Mike Hedges AM (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)

Natalie Buttriss, Director Coed Cadw – Woodland Trust
“The value of trees has not been adequately recognised in land use policy and practice for many years. We know that our planting rates in Wales are at their lowest levels in a generation, and that woodland cover is extremely low by international standards – 14% compared with a 44% average in Europe. We also know that previous agricultural schemes have not incentivised tree planting, despite the multiple benefits they provide."

Delivering for Wales

Delivering now on such a policy is a ‘must’, on advising anyone spending public money, in securing a safer future for us all. Wales has a very real opportunity to be a global model of sustainable land management. Woods and trees should be fully protected in law, where lost suitably restored and integrated into all aspects of Wales’ environment. This should be supported by local knowledge, design and delivery.

Creating a sustainable land use policy in Wales can deliver opportunities, benefits and well-being for our population, whilst addressing environmental restoration right across Wales and the UK.

Quotes from attendees in response to the event

Minister for environment, Hannah Blythyn AM
“I was grateful to Coed Cadw for inviting me to speak at its sustainable land use policy event. I share Coed Cadw’s commitment to this agenda and have placed woodland creation among my top ministerial priorities.

"Our Natural Resources Policy provides an opportunity for woodlands to deliver more public benefits through being integrated with other elements of our natural environment. I urge those who want to work with us on planting trees to apply to our Co-operative Forest Planning Scheme which supports a collaborative approach to planning for woodland creation.”

Abi Reader - South Wales, dairy farmer (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)
Abi Reader - South Wales, dairy farmer (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)

Abi Reader – South Wales, dairy farmer
“The event was an excellent opportunity to put across my views as a stakeholder about the opportunities and limitations of trees on farmland. It's time to think smart about how trees are used and where they could be located. I commend the research being carried out by the the Woodland Trust to demonstrate the cost benefits, and potential income, trees can bring to farms.”

Martyn Evans, senior advisor team leader (Glastir)
“The recent Woodland Trust event provided an excellent opportunity to listen to, and engage with, a range of organisations on developing a new sustainable land use policy for Wales. As the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, I believe it is vital that any future land management policy – and agri-environment schemes use the best evidence and deliver the right environmental enhancements in the right place, in accordance with the collective Welsh Government and NRW aim to manage our environment and natural resources sustainably.”

Professor Terry Marsden – Environmental Policy and Planning
“We have developed an innovative statutory framework in the Wales Future Generations Act and in creating Natural Resources Wales but we need a cohesive rural development policy that isn’t reactive to Westminster. We need to develop a land use strategy where woods and trees are an integral part.”

Professor Terry Marsden – Environmental Policy and Planning, Cardiff Uni (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)
Professor Terry Marsden – Environmental Policy and Planning, Cardiff Uni (Photo: WTML / Nigel Pugh)

Charlotte Priddy – Policy FUW
“It was great to hear from the variety of speakers at yesterday’s event, all emphasising the importance of woodland in Wales. It will, however, be imperative that any future policy integrates woodlands and forestry into the rural landscape in a way that benefits and enhances the opportunities available to rural communities without replacing them whilst underpinning the delivery of future timber supplies and ecosystem services, and furthering Wales’ commitment to the Well-being goals.”

Rosie Teasdale, executive director FSC – the Standard For sustainable Forest management
“Well-managed forests can provide environmental, social and economic benefits and we have a real opportunity to integrate trees and forestry into a sustainable land management policy as we look beyond traditional agricultural subsidies. It was clear from the discussion that it is vital to involve all stakeholders in the development of such a policy and that there is real interest from the different sectors to work collaboratively on this.”

Brian Palmer, long term volunteer Coed Cadw – Woodland Trust, ‘Wales Advisory Group’
“It was good to hear lots of positive thoughts and ideas about the future of rural land, from academic and political sources. There were lots of ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ but sadly not many ‘WILL BE DOING’ statements. I hope that the Trust will follow through on the petition and drive out the actions needed in the coming months.”

To understand in more detail how woods and trees can deliver public value please view or download our Sustainable Land Management pdf.

Where we work: Wales

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