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26 July 2017 14:24:59 |Forestry,News

'Ambition needed' for Welsh forestry, committee warns 'urgent' rethink

Ambition for Welsh forestry needed, an Assembly Committee has said (Photo: Scott Wylie)

Ambition for Welsh forestry needed, an Assembly Committee has said (Photo: Scott Wylie)

The Welsh government has been urged to rethink its woodland strategy and aim to 'significantly increase' planting rates, according to a National Assembly committee.
A new report calls on the government to be more ambitious on woodland policy in Wales.
It urges the government to address barriers to increasing planting, which the report says can bring environmental benefits, improve well-being and support businesses in Wales.
The Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee launched 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.
The Welsh Government has also been urged to consider developing a National Forest Company to help regenerate the south Wales valleys.

'One tenth'
Chair of the Committee, Mike Hedges AM said: “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.”
Benefits of agroforestry
Last week, a letter was sent by leading farming organisations to Defra Secretary Michael Gove explaining the benefits of agroforestry, which also called for more support.
The letter highlights the benefits of cultivating trees and crops or livestock on the same area of land.

It states that the current Rural Development Programme for England does not include options to support agroforestry, the result of a perceived lack of demand from farmers and landowners to adopt the practice.
In June, a major conference on agroforestry – organised by the Soil Association, the Woodland Trust and the Royal Forestry Society – brought together 250 farmers, foresters and researchers.


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