Tree planting marks 100 years of forestry in Wales and sets future ambition

Dafydd Elis-Thomas plants Welsh oak tree at  Garwnant Visitor Centre

A recently planted arboretum at Natural Resources Wales’ (NRW) Garwnant Visitor Centre, near Merthyr Tydfil, has been dedicated to the centenary celebration of the national forestry reserve in Wales.

The Forestry Commission was established in 1919 to replenish the nation’s woodland cover and timber supplies, which were at an all-time low following the First World War.

Since then the Woodland Estate that NRW now manages for the Welsh Government has grown to encompass an area of 124,000 hectares – that's 6% of Wales - and it supplies over 50% of all timber in Wales.

The Garwnant arboretum was planted in 2016, in preparation for the potential loss of mature larch trees at the site due to disease and features 88 different species, spread across 480 trees.

The trees have been chosen to represent and showcase trees from different continents around the world, which will create a show of colourful foliage and flowers at different stages of the year, increasing in impact as they mature over future decades.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas,  Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism marked the dedication ceremony by joining NRW CEO Clare Pillman, to plant a native Welsh sessile oak tree at Garwnant Visitor Centre.

The Welsh Government is currently in the discovery phase of scoping a National Forest Programme to take forward the First Minister’s vision for a National Forest in Wales. This will be a long-term project looking to maximise upon these benefits and accelerate tree planting in Wales.

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said:

“We must recognise the need to plant more trees and improve the management of our existing woodlands if we are going to tackle the biodiversity decline and climate change emergencies, as well as continue to enjoy the many benefits our woodlands and trees provide.
“We have world-leading mountain bike trails, accessible walking routes and now a fantastic Centenary Arboretum, which, as it matures will become even more of an asset which the people of Wales will want to visit and be proud of.
“It is important that all of us understand the value of being out in Wales’ natural environment, which can contribute greatly to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of all people in Wales and provides significant opportunities for educational, cultural and visual experience
“I hope we will see many more new trees planted over the next 100 years and continue to encourage cross-sector collaboration throughout Wales just as NRW have accomplished with this Centenary Arboretum.”

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales, said:

“It is fitting that this arboretum is to become NRW’s Centenary Arboretum; it poignantly demonstrates how forestry of the past and forestry of the future can come together in a way which supports the multiple benefits that flow from Wales’ public forest estate.
“These trees will work hard – storing carbon, cleaning air, attracting visitors, looking beautiful, creating resilience, reminding us of our past and the potential for our futures. They stand within an area of productive forest, contributing to Wales’ economic prosperity.
“By continuing to manage our forests efficiently and by planting sensitively in such a way that enhances biodiversity value rather than diminishing it, we can look forward to a steady increase the amount of forested land in Wales.”