THE Deputy Minister for Climate Change Lee Waters today issued a “national call to arms” to ask the people of Wales to help to deliver real change to tackle the climate emergency.
According to the Climate Change Committee, Wales needs to plant around 86 million trees over the next nine years to achieve its ambition of reaching net zero by 2050
The Deputy Minister was visiting Stump up for Trees a small charity planting 100,000 native broadleaf trees in an area called Bryn Arw, near Abergavenny – it is the first significant tree planting on common land in Wales.
The Deputy Minister said: “I want everyone to appreciate the many benefits we gain from trees in Wales, not only in tackling climate change, but improving air quality, enhancing nature and improving 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.
“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. Over the last three weeks I’ve been working intensely with a team of experts to understand how we can dramatically increase the number of trees we plant every year and transform the way Welsh wood is used.
“It is a huge challenge and will only be possible through an alliance for change, involving many partners and every family in Wales.
“Today I am issuing a national call to arms, asking everyone to join us in delivering this challenge to plant more trees for Wales.”
People, and communities, across Wales will be encouraged to plant trees and the Welsh Government will work with farmers and landowners to identify opportunities for planting.
Work is also beginning to deliver the government’s manifesto commitment to deliver a Timber Industrial Strategy to create jobs by developing a new Welsh wood economy.
At the moment 80% of the timber used in the UK is imported, and only 4% of the 1.5m of harvested Welsh timber is processed to be used as construction-grade timber. Most Welsh timber is used for lower value products, such as fence posts, panels, pallets and decking.
“Meeting net zero, particularly in the construction sector, will mean using much more timber in Wales,” the Deputy Minister said.
“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 Minister also confirmed that the Welsh Government would open a Woodland Investment Grant as part of plans for a National Forest for Wales.
“Many of the woodlands and trees we plant could form part of the National Forest in the future, supporting our ambition to create a network of high quality, multi-purpose woodland across Wales,” he said.
“To support this ambition, I am pleased to announce we will be opening the Woodland Investment Grant later in the week to allow people to apply for grants to create new woodlands or improve existing woodlands which could become part of the National Forest.”
The Deputy Minister will set out the expert group’s findings in the Senedd later today.
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