A new start for Woodlands in Wales!

Wales, like England and Ireland, is one of the least wooded countries in Europe.  And if you think of all the benefits that woodland offers us – habitats for wildlife, better management of water, and opportunities for recreation as well as a supply of timber and wood fuel – then you can see that we are the poorer for it.
But with the publication of the new Woodlands for Wales strategy by Assembly Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones, Wales is at least one step closer to doing something about it.
At the launch at Carreg Cennen Castle on 27 March, Elin Jones was explicit in her message: “Woodlands and trees can make a big difference – not just to our lives but potentially to those of future generations too.” She added: “This is why this strategy sets out a bold ambition for how woodlands and trees could contribute even more if we are adventurous with our decisions now.”
Coed Cymerau Isaf, Ffestiniog

Ancient woodland in the care of Coed Cadw, the Woodland Trust in Wales. Coed Cymerau Isaf, Ffestiniog

So what does the new strategy say?
  • There’s an emphasis on increasing woodland cover, which is new for Wales. The strategy talks about giving priority to both new native woodland, and new mixed woodland that can deliver multiple benefits. Unlike Scotland which aims to create 10,000 ha of new woodland a year in order reach 25% woodland cover by the second half of the century, the strategy does not include a target for this. But the desired direction of travel is clear.
  • There’s a commitment to restore those areas of ancient woodland in the Assembly’s ownership that were planted with non-native trees, mostly conifers, in the last century, wherever there are ancient woodland remnant features to restore.
  • There’s a commitment to introduce a simplified version of the BWW woodland granted scheme. Many farmers would be interested in emulating the successful Pontbren scheme in Montgomeryshire, but are put off by the onerous paperwork and tight conditions.
  • There’s a recognition of the value of woodland and trees in towns and cities, improving people’s quality of life and cooling down urban areas in summer.
Of course, these are only some headlines, there’s much more besides.  But Elin Jones and the Forestry Commission Wales should be congratulated on the new strategy. The emphasis now has to be on delivery. Coed Cadw (the Woodland Trust in Wales) is keen to help to deliver these ambitious plans, and also, if necessary, to remind people about them!
Do you agree with this strategy?  Comment and have your say here!

This entry was posted in Agriculture, Conservation, Government Affairs, Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS), Wales, Woodland creation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A new start for Woodlands in Wales!

  1. Rory Francis, Coed Cadw (Woodland Trust) says:

    Hi Ann

    Coed Cadw is very much aware of the controversy that has broken out regarding the future of Newborough Forest. While we respect the strong feelings on both sides, we cannot intervene in this particular debate. Whatever one thinks of the forest at Newborough, it is neither ancient, nor at present, even predominantly native. As a charity, we concentrate our limited resources on protecting woodland that is ancient, that is likely to have a richness of wildlife that more recent woods would not have – as well as on creating new native woodland.

  2. Ann Hesson says:

    Reading about a new strategy for Wales, planting trees, I would like to draw your attention to Newborough Forest on Anglesey where more than 40% of the trees are to be clear-felled to return the area to dune habitat. A forest design plan (which was subsequently turned down) wanted a more diverse habitat with broadleafed trees planted in what is primarily a pine forest with self seeded broadleafed trees amongst the pine. This forest is home to the Anglesey Red Squirrel which was reintroduced with a view to colonising the whole island once wildlife corridors are provided, the second largest Raven roost in Europe is also here along with Crossbills etc.
    Anglesey only has about 4% tree cover and needs all the woodland and forest it can get, and Newborough forest with its unique link with the beach should have conservation status in its own right as Wooded Dune Land, the public can enjoy inland forests in many places, but this forest is special.
    The Welsh Assembly Government aren’t keeping to this new strategy in Newborough where massive felling is on the cards, NOT PLANTING.
    Albert Owen MP has stated that Newborough Forest has become an established part of the coastline and is a habitat for numerous species including the Red Squirrel. He says that WAG has responsibilities to protect wildlife and forestry and he is opposed to the current proposals.
    Can the Woodlands Trust help in any way at all to protect this beautiful forest?

Sorry, comments are closed as we have moved to a new site: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/

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