The Welsh Assembly has made forestry a central part of its rural strategy, for the first time in several decades.
Rural affairs minister Elin Jones wants to make forestry a key component of the Assembly Government’s sustainability strategy. Jones has announced a review of the Woodland Strategy for Wales. This will include encouraging farmers to work with the forestry sector.
The Woodland Strategy was first drawn up seven years ago, but is now being revised to emphasise the importance of forestry for the environment. Under the new plans, the amount of Welsh woodland could even expand after several years of stagnation.
A growing awareness of climate change has a lot to do with the updated strategy.
Forests are now more widely recognised as a form of storage for carbon, as well as sources of sustainable building materials and renewable energy.
In order to maximise the benefits of forests, Jones says the Welsh woodland landscape will have to adapt. This could mean changing management and size, and possibly even changing location and tree species.
“First, they will need to become more resilient and better adapted to the challenges that might develop through a changing climate. Secondly, some woodland might be better as different habitat and some agricultural land might deliver more as woodland in future,” said Jones.