New project to tackle climate change sees every household in Wales offered free tree to plant

Trees will be available to collect from community hubs from March next year. Credit: Welsh Government

Every household in Wales will be offered a free tree to plant as part of a new Welsh Government scheme to tackle climate change.

People will have the choice to either collect and plant their own tree, or they can have one planted on their behalf by Coed Cadw, The Woodland Trust.

Visiting one of the trust's woodland creation projects near Gnoll Park in Neath, Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters said he hoped the campaign would inspire families to go on planting trees themselves in the future.

The project is estimated to cost around £2 million and will be rolled out from March next year.

Deputy minister for climate change, Lee Waters said Wales "tree-planting record has not been great" previously and this needs to change. Credit: Welsh Government

Trees will be available to collect from March 2022 from one of five regional, community hubs. 20 more hubs will be established across Wales by next October.

The locations of hubs and more information on how to claim your tree will be available online and via a network of volunteers "soon", according to Lee Waters.

Mr Waters said the Government wants to follow in Belfast City Council's footsteps in creating a heat map of where people would like to see trees planted in their communities, and encouraged everyone to get in touch with suggestions.

He emphasised that Wales needs to ramp up its tree-planting in order to meet climate change targets.

"We need to plant lots more trees to meet our climate change targets by the end of this decade - we have to plant 86 million more trees in Wales," he said.

"Our tree-planting record has not been great and we need to increase it by 15-fold every year. That is a massive challenge.

"We want households to play their part. We've issued a call to arms really.

"It's a practical thing, because if every household planted a tree, we'd have a million trees planted. But it's also about awareness raising and getting people to think about nature and the role trees can have.

"Our message is trees are amazing - we've been neglecting them, we need to plant lots, lots more of them and you and your family can play your part."

It is estimated that around 10% of land currently used for food production needs to be converted into woodland. Credit: PA

Mr Walters acknowledged that individual households each planting a tree would not create enough woodland. He said landowners like farmers would need to embrace tree growth in order to make a real difference.

It is believed that around 10% of land used for food production needs to be turned into woodland.

"Primarily we need farmers to be planting more trees on their land," Mr Waters said.

"Ten percent is not a huge shift. There's good practical reasons for why trees can help farmers go about their normal business.

"We're also going to be changing the subsidy regime so farmers are incentivised to do it.

"There's a lot of anxiety in the farming community at the moment and it's easy to see the tree as the boogeyman - actually trees are a part of the solution of how we deal with the current crisis and it needn't be at the expense of farming."

Natalie Buttriss, Coed Cadw director, said: "We are delighted to be working with the Welsh Government in this great community tree giveaway to get thousands of native trees in the ground.

"We want people from all backgrounds to be part of planting the national forest for Wales."

A Government consultation on plans to create a national forest for Wales will launch early next year.