“Trees are amazing.”

That was the statement made by Lee Waters, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, at the Senedd this week – before listing the multiple benefits to health and wellbeing, and recognising that trees are ‘essential’ to tackling the dual biodiversity and climate crisis in Wales.

"We must protect the trees that we have, and plant 86 million more of them in Wales by the end of this decade if we are to tackle the Climate Emergency.”

Fulfilling a Manifesto promise to concentrate on planting thousands more trees in Wales, the Deputy Minister also went on to encourage “every family with a garden to plant more trees, and every school and community group to sign up to the Woodland Trust’s free tree scheme.”  

Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales, has welcomed these comments. Natalie Buttriss, director in Wales, said “We invite everyone to take up the Deputy Minister’s call for the public to order free trees from us, and wholeheartedly support his appeal to work ‘proactively work with communities to get trees planted everywhere we can’.”

The Deputy Minister also highlighted the need for “public bodies need to map the land they own & proactively identify where more trees can be planted.”

Coed Cadw has embraced this approach, highlighting that there are issues with tree inequity in urban areas, where more socially deprived areas are not seeing the health benefits of urban trees, whilst often suffering disproportionate pollution from cars and industry.

The Deputy Minister also addressed the farming community in his statement, stressing the need to plant “…what is described as 'hedges and edges', such as trees along field boundaries, scattered trees, hedges, and shelterbelts planting.”  This can also be supported by Coed Cadw with their MOREwoods scheme, which is open for applications now.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister highlighted the unhelpful and unnecessary trend for areas of farmland being bought up by outside interests as a ‘greenwash’ exercise. “This does not need to happen. There are some excellent examples to learn from, including the Stump Up For Trees project near Abergavenny, which I visited yesterday, a project led by farmers in consensus with communities to plant trees on unproductive land and create new sources of income whilst protecting communities for the longer term. We need more examples like these.”

Finally, the Deputy Minister announced that work has begun on developing a Timber Industrial Strategy to create a stronger wood economy in Wales, to support jobs, and create sustainable opportunities for the future.

Natalie Buttriss summarised, “We warmly welcome the statements made in the Senedd this week, as well as the determination to act comprehensively, the inclusiveness, the call for action, and the changes proposed to drive it.  

Increased planting will be crucial to tackling the dual climate and biodiversity crisis in Wales but will also connect Wales to a woodland economy. The right, climate-smart, increased tree cover will be great for local economies, meeting the urgent need for homegrown timber. We can create a decarbonising green recovery, along with new Welsh jobs throughout the associated supply chain, whilst up-skilling the next generation of woodland conservationists -something we urgently need, as only 7% of UK ancient woods, one of our best-known homes for nature, are fit for purpose.”

We now look forward to further involvement in how this is delivered.”

About Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:

  1. protect ancient woodland, which is rare, unique, and irreplaceable,
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life,
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. These include over 100 sites in Wales, with a total area of 2,897 hectares (7,155 acres). Access to its woods is free, so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

The Trust’s Welsh language name, “Coed Cadw”, is an old Welsh term, used in medieval laws to describe protected or preserved woodland.