Confor pressure secures doubled funds for forestry in Wales
A grant pot of £2 million for new woodland creation was announced yesterday by Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, following pressure from Confor to demonstrate Welsh Government commitment to planting trees.
Speaking at an event marking 100 years of Welsh Forestry at the 100th Royal Welsh Show, Ms Griffiths said that the funding was a mark of their commitment to meet targets of 2000 hectares new woodland creation each year. The extra funding pledge signals intent on the part of Welsh Government to meet these targets.
Ms Griffiths said that Welsh Government fully recognise that not enough is being planted, and that she is holding interesting conversations with colleagues about solutions to the challenges of woodland creation. She also restated her commitment to new compensatory planting for woodland lost on the Welsh Forest Estate to windfarm development, and said that she was working with First Minister Mark Drakeford on proposals for a National Forest for Wales.
Anthony Geddes, Confor National Manager for Wales, said, “This is a welcome step forward, Confor have been working closely with the minister and her forest policy team to turn warm words on forestry into trees in the ground. New woodland creation in Wales is vital to provide timber for housing, meet planting targets, create wildlife habitats and strengthen our natural capital.
“The grants need to reflect planting targets and other barriers to planting and management remain to be addressed, before Welsh woodlands deliver these benefits to the level required. However, this extra funding as a signal of intent is exactly what we have been asking for from Welsh Government. I would urge Confor members to take advantage of this opportunity and apply for these grants, to create the first of a new generation of Welsh Forests.”
Andrew Sowerby of Pryor and Rickett said, “This increase in funding is a important step forward in addressing the lack of planting in Wales. If the Minister has any scope to increase this further she will find the forestry industry ready and willing to help her meet this policy commitment”
The £2m grant fund under the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme will open on 30 September. Landowners are encouraged to submit expressions of interest.
Welsh government reinstated the Glastir woodland creation scheme in wales after failing to commit funding to the program in 2018. The resulting gap in support saw planting figures in Wales reach their lowest level in 30 years. The current funding available for planting would meet 750 hectares of the 2000 ha target that the WG has set this year.