Taskforce maps out new era for forestry and wood in Wales

13 July 2021

A new era for forestry and wood in Wales is within sight after the Welsh Government issued a “call to arms” to plant millions more trees to tackle climate change.

Anthony Geddes, Confor’s National Manager for Wales, has been a key member of the Trees & Timber Taskforce, convened by new Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters MS (Member of the Senedd) to identify the barriers to driving up tree planting and wood use - and how to overcome them. [He has made a short video explaining the Taskforce's work here]

The Taskforce worked solidly for several weeks to come up with a package of more than 30 recommendations which Mr Geddes said offered the opportunity for Wales to “finally move from aspiration to delivery”.

The recommendations include:

  • A new window of the Glastir Woodland Creation Scheme, to open in September - and a new woodland creation grant scheme to be open all year round;
  • Fast-track verification for low-risk planting applications;
  • A new scheme to fund the development of new woodland plans;
  • A new woodland management grant;
  • More support for nurseries to increase capacity - including a commitment to work with the Confor Nurseries Group to “secure security of future tree supply’;
  • A working group to develop a Timber Industrial Strategy;
  • Greater support for skills development.

Mr Geddes said: “This package of measures promises to speed up and simplify the way that well-designed, modern and mixed-species forests are planted in Wales. It also begins to lay out a long-awaited, joined-up strategy that links increased tree planting, better woodland management and greater wood use.

“Confor has been at the heart of the taskforce discussions and I am very optimistic that after years of aspirational targets and under-delivery, we can now kick-start a new era for forestry and wood in Wales.

“Lee Waters has hit the ground running in his new role, and has made it very clear that he wants to meet the target set by the Climate Change Committee - to plant 43,000 hectares of new woodland in Wales by 2030, rising to 180,000 hectares by 2050. He has also recognised that the current processes are too slow and bureaucratic.

“In contrast, the Taskforce has moved at real speed, and with great purpose, and I’m optimistic that we can finally move from aspiration to delivery. I was hopeful that the new joined-up approach promised by the creation of the Climate Change Ministry would be a catalyst for change and this early action is a really positive sign.”

In his written statement to the Senedd, Mr Waters says: “Meeting our climate change commitment requires a call to arms. Planting more trees is not only essential to help avoid catastrophic climate change but will provide a wide range of other benefits to Wales, including creating ‘green’ jobs, helping to address the nature emergency, increasing well-being and mitigating flooding and air quality issues.”

He continued: “Meeting net zero, particularly in the construction sector, will also mean using much more timber in Wales.”

Mr Waters said there had been “a large degree of consensus about the barriers to achieving these aims” and added: “The taskforce has identified a number of actions which can be taken quickly to address some of these barriers. It has also identified a number of more difficult issues which require urgent follow-up work.”

Mr Waters also promised to set out further detail in a new Woodland for Wales Action Plan later this year.