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'Ambition needed' for Welsh forestry

Photo: Geoff Caddick/PA Archive/PA Images

The Welsh Government should urgently rethink its woodland strategy and aim to significantly increase planting rates, according to a National Assembly committee.

A new report calls on the Welsh Government to be more ambitious on woodland policy in Wales and address barriers to increasing planting, which can bring environmental benefits, improve well-being and support businesses in Wales.

The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee launches its report, ‘Branching out: a new ambition for woodland policies’, at the Royal Welsh Show.

Recommendations for the Welsh Government include:

  • The need for greater clarity on how to use trees as a nature-based solution to flooding.
  • That the Welsh Government commits to ensuring a minimum of 20 percent tree cover in Wales’ towns and cities by 2030, because of the substantial environmental, social, economic and health benefits they can bring.
  • The need to extend and better manage access to public woodlands, especially for marginalised groups;
  • The Welsh Government should consider developing a National Forest Company to help regenerate the south Wales valleys.
  • Agree ambitious targets with the forestry sector for Wales to become increasingly self-sufficient in timber.

We visited woodlands in Newport, Dinas Powys, Crumlin, Merthyr Tydfil, Newbridge, Maesteg and Pwllheli to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing woodland owners and managers in Wales, and consider how everybody in Wales can benefit from our trees and forests.

Since 2010, we have seen only one tenth of the Welsh Government’s tree planting target by 2030 met, and we know that the main barriers to meeting this are regulatory and financial, with a perception amongst investors that Wales is closed for business when it comes to woodland creation.

Our report found that there is great potential in Wales to plant more trees and create more woodlands, and to meet demand for timber that exists in other parts of the UK.

– Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee

We are grateful to the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee for this report and will study the recommendations in detail. We want to see more trees and woodland in Wales. We are working with Natural Resources Wales to improve the way the various regulatory processes are implemented to protect important habitats while also increasing new woodland planting.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson