THE Minister for Climate Change Julie James has today announced £32m for farmers and landowners to help Wales plant 86 million trees by the end of the decade to combat the climate emergency.
The announcement follows a short, intensive review carried out by the Deputy Minister for Climate Change which looked at removing barriers to woodland creation.
Wales needs to plant 43,000 hectares of new woodland by the end of this decade as part of the Welsh Government’s journey to making the country net zero by 2050.
The two new schemes are:
The Small Grants Woodland Creation scheme, which simplifies funding for farmers and other land managers to plant small areas of trees on land in Wales under two hectares which is agriculturally improved or of low environmental value.
The Woodland Creation Grant, which offers funding for tree planting and fencing to farmers and land managers who have a woodland creation plan, approved by the Welsh Government.
Both schemes will provide grants towards tree planting, fencing and gates and 12 years of maintenance support.
Minister for Climate Change Julie James said:
“Planting more trees will play a fundamental role in helping Wales to avoid some of the worst effects of climate change. Woodland creation can also provide a wealth of benefits to local communities from green jobs to places for nature.
We want farmers in Wales to be central to our plans. They know their land better than anybody else so, to ensure the sustainability of their business, we will leave decisions around where trees should be planted entirely with them. As long as they meet the UK Forestry Standard, we are on hand to offer the support they may need.
We know they, like many others, are keen to reduce their carbon footprint and help us on our Team Wales mission to tackle climate change head on.”
Derek Morgan is a farmer in Llangurig, Llanidloes, who has planted around 58,000 trees after wanting to diversify his holding from being primarily a sheep farm.
Mr Morgan said:
“I had a rethink on my strategy for the farm just a few years ago, deciding to plant on 17.5 hectares to create woodland that sits comfortably into the local landscape.
I am very proud of what we’ve achieved because it will allow me to produce sustainable timber to supply local markets and means there will always be a business here. It is also lovely to see the wildlife and new habitats it has brought to the land.”
All woodland creation supported by the Welsh Government’s Woodland Creation Grant must be verified by Natural Resources Wales to ensure it meets the UK Forestry Standard, which is a robust standard for sustainable forestry.
Ceri Davies, executive director of evidence, policy and permitting at Natural Resources Wales, added:
“Increasing the tree canopy across Wales as part of the Woodland Creation Scheme is a crucial part of the effort to tackle the climate and nature emergencies and to help achieve the nation’s net zero ambitions.
Natural Resources Wales is playing a key role in this ambition, working with local stakeholders, landowners, farmers and the forestry sector to understand the barriers to tree planting and how they can be overcome. We are also helping to ensure all schemes meet the UK Forestry Standard, ensuring that any new planting safeguards wildlife and the environment, enhances the local landscape and carefully manages our natural resources.
We look forward to continuing this work with the Welsh Government and our partners to further the extensive tree planting ambitions in Wales and to deliver the many benefits it can provide for us all.”