Wales issues 'call to arms' to plant 86 million trees over nine years to achieve emissions target

'We have to do it - this is not optional'

The Welsh Government has issued a "national call to arms" urging people across the country to plant more trees in a bid to tackle climate change.

Around 86 million trees must be planted in Wales over the next nine years to achieve its ambition of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Lee Waters, deputy minister for climate change, said trees help tackle climate change and improve air quality, as well as nature and people's mental wellbeing.

"To tackle the climate emergency, Wales needs a step change in woodland creation and a transformation in the way Welsh wood is used across our economy," Mr Waters said.

"According to the Climate Change Committee, to reach net zero, we need to plant 43,000 hectares of new trees by 2030, rising to 180,000 hectares by 2050. That means planting around 86 million trees over the next nine years.

"Last year just 290 hectares of woodland was planted in Wales."

Close to 10 million trees must be planted a year for the Welsh Government to reach its target. Credit: PA Images

Mr Waters said he had been working with experts to understand how to "dramatically increase" the number of trees planted in Wales each year.

"It is a huge challenge and will only be possible through an alliance for change, involving many partners and every family in Wales," he added.

"Today I am issuing a national call to arms, asking everyone to join us in delivering this challenge to plant more trees for Wales."

As part of the plans, people and communities across Wales will be encouraged to plant trees.

The Welsh Government will also work with farmers and landowners to identify where trees could be planted.

Currently, 80% of the timber used in the UK is imported and only 4% of harvested Welsh timber is processed to be used as construction-grade timber.

This is mostly used for lower value products, such as fence posts, panels, pallets and decking.

Lee Waters said Wales must use more of its own timber.

Ministers are aiming to create jobs in Wales by developing a new Welsh wood economy.

Mr Waters said: "Meeting net zero, particularly in the construction sector, will mean using much more timber in Wales.

"This means an important role for productive woodlands to sustainably grow more Welsh timber, rather than importing timber which has a negative environmental impact abroad.

"There is an opportunity for timber processors and manufacturers in Wales to grow and create more jobs.

"This will require coordination across the supply chain, to ensure more Welsh timber goes to high value added uses, and that as much of the wealth created as possible is retained in Wales."

The Welsh Government will also open a woodland investment grant later this week as part of plans for a National Forest for Wales.

Mr Waters is due to make a statement about the plans in the Senedd on Tuesday.

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