National Assembly for Wales Climate Change Report supports planting trees

29 May 2018

Concern about the severe lack of new woodland creation in Wales and under-ambitious tree-planting targets are central messages in a new report from the National Assembly for Wales on Climate Change.

The wide-ranging report by the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee (CCERA) examines Welsh Government (WG) progress towards climate change mitigation. It looks at many sectors - including energy generation, EU Emissions Trading Scheme, land management, transport and housing – noting  the progress in each area and suggesting future action WG can take.

One key message was concern about the severe lack of new woodland creation in Wales. The report said it was “extremely unlikely the Welsh Government will meet its target of 100,000 hectares (ha) of new woodland creation for 2010-2030 without a fundamental change in approach”. It also said: “Although the Welsh Government remains committed to reaching its planting target, there is no evidence that would suggest that the target is achievable or realistic, based on current performance”.

The report also says the new planting aspiration of 2,000ha per year is insufficient. Read the full report here 

Confor provided evidence used in the report through UK Climate Change Committee consultations and directly to the CCE&RA committee. The report was also informed by the Expert Group on Climate Change set up by CCERA (which Confor is a member of), to provide advice on meeting climate change policy commitments. 

Confor’s National Manager for Wales, Martin Bishop, said: “Confor welcomes this report and fully endorses the aspiration to increase tree planting. It is also very clear that this is just the latest in a series of reports to Welsh Government, all saying the same thing: INCREASE TREE PLANTING.” 

The Confor “Welsh Softwood Timber Supplies and Our Green Economy” workshop back in 2015 started the process by asking that WG promote and facilitate commercial woodland creation.

In 2017 the report “Branching Out: A New Ambition for Woodland Policies in Wales” recommended that WG must address the constraints on the commercial forestry sector, in particular by:

  • Facilitating coniferous woodland creation and commercial operations on both public and private land.
  • Promoting to the farming community the commercial and other benefits of planting
  • Providing and promoting training in forestry, woodland management and woodland planning 

And late in 2017 the UK Committee on Climate Change report “Building a Low-Carbon Economy in Wales” also called for “very ambitious level of tree planting in Wales of more than 66,000 hectares (ha) by 2030” and said “WG should simplify and streamline the process for supporting tree planting, in order to reduce the barriers to action” 

Mr Bishop said: “All this is building a head of steam that we think will be hard for the Welsh Government to ignore and Confor intends to use all of these reports to keep the pressure on for action on tree planting. Influencing the political debate is a long-term job, but the case to create new forests is getting stronger with every report.”