New figures show enormous demand to plant in Wales

17 August 2020

New figures for woodland creation applications in Wales show "enormous hunger" to plant trees among farmers and landowners.

Anthony Geddes, Confor's National Manager for Wales, said the newly-released statistics were "hugely encouraging". 

The Welsh Government opened the ninth round of Glastir Woodland Creation (GWC) in March. 

The window closed on 31 July, with 379 expressions of interest received, to a value of £17.5 million. The applications equate to 4200 hectares of potential tree planting with a budget to achieve just over half of this.

Applications are currently going through eligibility checks, before a formal scoring and selection process. Contracts to plant will be issued to successful applicants before the 31st December 2020. 

Mr Geddes said: "These are hugely encouraging figures which show that there is enormous hunger to plant trees among farmers and landowners in Wales.  

"It also shows a real enthusiasm for the environmental, economic and social benefits that can be delivered in Wales by planting trees. This is a great step towards Wales’s Green Recovery” 

Mr Geddes paid tribute to Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs. 

He said: "The Minister has shown real confidence in forestry in Wales by putting £8 million into planting for this woodland creation round. I'd like to congratulate her and her team for developing a robust application process that should see a far higher success rate for achieving new planting. 

"The figures send a strong message to both Welsh Government and farming unions that farmers and landowners are positive about planting  trees. These are all plans submitted by registered woodland planners, so unlike previous GWC programs, this is all land where it is realistic to plant. 

Mr Geddes said not all the expressions of interest wuld be funded in this window, but added: "I hope all strong applications can be processed, then funded in the next window if they miss out this time. I look forward to the next window being scheduled and funded soon - and to real momentum gathering behind tree planting in Wales." 

Just last week, the Welsh Government announced a £1.55 million Forestry Industry Recovery Scheme, to help enterprises involved in the sustainable harvesting of trees in and/or the growing of trees in the wake of Covid-19. 

Mr Geddes concluded: "There is a lot of positive news about forestry in Wales right now and Confor welcomes the support for an important rural industry. It is worth over half a billion pounds annually to the economy and employs more than 10,000 people - and these numbers could increase significantly if we start to see woodland creation taking off in a meaningful way."