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Why we need more trees – the benefits of new woodland creation

The Welsh Government would like to see 100,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030. That would be good for us, our economy and our environment

People enjoying a park


Wales is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with trees covering just 15 percent of our land against a European average of 37%. The UK continues to import around 80% of our timber and wood products, and whilst Wales is capable of growing, producing and processing quality timber, we need to do more to ensure a healthy future supply.

Woodland in the future

We want to see more trees and woodlands in Wales and the Welsh Government set an aspiration of 100,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030 to help Wales meet its carbon emission reduction targets. It is widely acknowledged that new woodland creation is one of the most cost-effective ways of doing so.

Estimates from a study in 2012 reveal that the overall net present value from this new planting would, over a 100-year time frame, range from £299 million (lowest estimate) to £8.6 billion (highest estimate) – that’s real green growth.

The benefits of woodland

Woodlands can and do provide multiple benefits in the same place and at the same time, not just timber products over the long term. Trees and woodlands can make a positive difference to our lives and to those of future generations. The environments they create offer opportunities for people, businesses and biodiversity. The timber they yield is a renewable resource that helps to lock up carbon.

Woodlands provide things we need and use:

  • Raw materials – construction materials, paper pulp and wood chip, packaging and pallets
  • Non-timber products – such as game, honey, berries, fungi
  • Wood fuel for power plants, business, community or domestic supply of heat and power
  • Timber and wood products offer a cost effective and valuable alternative to fossil fuel rich materials such as steel and concrete

Woodlands and environmental quality

Woodlands improve the quality of our environment:

  • Wooded catchments help protect the quality of our drinking water supplies and can moderate flood events
  • Trees capture harmful pollutants in our atmosphere and improve our air quality, especially in towns and cities
  • Tree canopies provide shade, shelter and absorb sound. Soils, animals and humans can be protected from the extremes our weather and climate throw at us
  • Woodlands help to stabilise soils, reducing erosion and slips. They can protect against pollution by providing a buffer between source and receptor, or help the recovery of contaminated land
  • Trees need pollination too and woodlands offer a rich habitat for our wild pollinators
  • Woodlands and their soils are important reserves of carbon

Woodlands and wellbeing

Woodlands make us feel better:

  • They provide great settings for play, education and learning, outdoor pursuits, community activities and enterprise
  • They provide places to pursue art, relaxation and connect us with our landscape and heritage. We should all have a special tree in our lives!

Woodlands are essential to life:

  • Forests are important for soil formation, nutrient and water cycling and oxygen production
  • Our woodlands provide a rich habitat for some of our best loved plants and animals (such as our bluebell woodlands), wildlife (eg the pied flycatcher) and some of our rarest (eg the lime bark beetle) and less well known species (eg lobarian lichen communities)

Guidance on woodland creation

Natural Resources Wales can offer guidance on how to grow the right tree in the right place for the right reasons. Together with the guidance available from the Forestry Commission there is plenty of information to get you started or provide detailed information for the professional. Use the links to find out more.

Woodlands and business opportunities

Woodland can provide new business opportunities through:

  • The sale of timber, wood products or firewood
  • Game shooting
  • On-farm tourism businesses

Woodlands and farming

Woodland is a valuable addition to a working farm. It can support and strengthen the existing business by:

  • Improving livestock production with shelter and biosecurity
  • Reducing heating costs
  • Providing timber products such as fencing, gates, wood chip bedding and fuel
  • Reducing soil erosion or waterlogging

Woodland can improve the farm environment:

  • Making it a more pleasant place to live and work
  • Enhancing the property value
  • Supporting natural ecological functions
  • Improving the quality of the landscape
  • Reducing the carbon footprint of the business

Even small projects can make a difference

You do not have to own a farm or lots of land to make a difference. A single tree or group of trees can make a positive difference to your workplace, home, school or community. Take a look at our page on the support available and the steps you would need to consider for a new woodland creation project.

Further information

For more information on Glastir Woodland Creation please contact Welsh Government rural-affairs@wales.gsi.gov.uk

If you would like to contact the Sustainable Forest Management Team in Natural Resources Wales you can send your enquiry to sfmt@cyfoethnaturiolcymru.gov.uk

Forestry Commission - New farm Woodlands

This brochure highlights how planting trees can contribute to a farm business. Download the PDF

Related document downloads

New farm woodlands How planting trees can contribute to your farm business PDF [3.4 MB]

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