Wales’ new National Forest takes a further step forward today as a new scheme to enable more woodlands to become part of the network is launched.
The National Forest for Wales Status Scheme paves the way for woodlands not owned by the Welsh Government to become part of the Forest.
These could be small urban or community woodlands, private land or farms, or large areas of land owned by local authorities, charities or timber-producing woodlands.
Any landowner or manager will be able to apply to the scheme and any type of well-managed woodland will be eligible, from newly created to ancient woodlands.
First Minister Mark Drakeford launched the scheme during a visit to Pencoedtre Coetir Bach in Barry, a new tiny forest and the first non-Welsh Government woodland site to be given National Forest for Wales status.
“We’re fortunate to have so many thriving woodlands across Wales. We want to protect them and help them flourish, increasing their biodiversity and strengthening their ecosystems.
“There are clear benefits from doing so – opening up more outdoor spaces, which are good for our wellbeing, as well as creating new green job opportunities.
“Creating a National Forest for Wales is a key part of the actions we must take now to keep us on track to becoming a net zero nation by 2050.”
In 2020, the First Minister announced plans for the National Forest for Wales, to create areas of new woodland and help restore and maintain some of Wales’ ancient woodlands.
The National Forest will create a network of woodlands running the length and breadth of Wales, with interconnected ecosystems. In the future there will also be opportunities to grow Welsh timber sustainably.
Minister for Climate Change Julie James added:
“Today’s announcement sets us on our course to create a connected network of woodlands throughout Wales through the National Forest.
“Helping to tackle climate change, it will also bring social, economic and environmental benefits to Wales. I would encourage everyone who is eligible to contact their National Forest for Wales Liaison Officer to see if their woodland can join our vision of creating a National Forest for Wales which extends the length and breadth of the country.”
Claire Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said:
“The need to aid nature’s recovery is urgent and creating and enhancing woodlands is one of the best things we can do in Wales to respond to the climate and nature emergencies.
“The National Forest for Wales will play an important part in contributing to that response, in a way that works for both people and nature.
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with the Welsh Government to support the National Forest for Wales Status Scheme and would encourage woodland owners to speak with our dedicated team of liaison officers who will be able to offer valuable support and guidance.”
Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said:
“Supporting projects that help habitats and species thrive, reduce the impacts of climate change and help people connect with natural heritage is a priority for The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales.
“We’re thrilled to be delivering both the ‘The Woodland Investment Grant – TWIG’ and ‘Coetiroedd Bach/Tiny Forests’ in partnership with Welsh Government. These schemes will make an important contribution to the National Forest for Wales and will increasing people’s understanding and connection with Wales’ unique natural heritage across our towns, cities and countryside.”