Wales Plans National Forest After Falling Behind In UK Tree Planting Efforts

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Eco-News | January 10, 2024

An overlook of the woodlands at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

According to the BBC, Wales fell behind the rest of the United Kingdom in its efforts to counteract climate change by planting more indigenous trees.

Quoting forestry experts, the outlet reported that the Welsh Government only achieved about four percent of its targeted planting in the “clearly disappointing” results.

Wales planned to cover 2,000 hectares for the year, but could only plant around 80 during the 2019-2020 season.
Given that throughout the UK, over 13,000 hectares were created during this time, the Welsh Government was quoted as taking “significant steps” to increase output.

The BBC reported that the break down for the amount of hectares planted were, “10,860 in Scotland, 2,330 in England, 200 in Northern Ireland and 80 in Wales.

“More than 80% of the new planting occurred in Scotland, heralded as ‘outstanding’ by the Scottish Government though it too missed its annual target.”

The results follow the ministers’ 2018 strategy to boost tree planting rates in Wales.

The BBC reported, “The latest goal – a personal ambition of the First Minister Mark Drakeford – is to create a National Forest, running the length and breadth of the country.”

Other advisors suggest increasing the target to 5,000, to underscore the need.

“(They’re) clearly disappointing, but we do understand that the Welsh Government has recently outlined ambitious plans for a Welsh National Forest and doubled the funding for Glastir Woodland Creation grants, both of which we hope will make a real difference,” Rory Francis of the Woodland Trust in Wales in explained.

He also supports a “new land-use policy… supporting tree planting in the right places.”

Anthony Geddes, National Manager for Wales at CONFOR said the figures were “disappointing.”

“We know there is high demand out there to plant trees and, thanks to hard work from all parties, the funding and the processes are falling into place to respond to that demand and get planting,” he added.

Geddes explained that the Welsh Government received applications for more than 7,000 hectares of new planting in 2019, and added that forestry and timber contribute to the annual economy.

A spokesman for the Welsh Government told the BBC “the timing of Rural Development Programme funding, funds made available last year will support tree planting in the upcoming planting season this winter.”

“Last year we funded the planting of 1,500 hectares of trees to re-stock existing woodland,” he continued. He also said that “work has begun” on establishing a new National Forest “across” Wales.

You can also contribute to this effort by finding your current carbon emissions with an ecological footprint calculator and then partnering with one of the best carbon offset providers that carry out carbon offsetting tree planting operations.