Campaigners against mass tree-planting gather at Royal Welsh Show
Rural campaigners are gathering at the Royal Welsh Show this week to urge the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) to stop the purchasing of prime agricultural land for mass tree-planting projects.
They are also being pressed to curtail “outside interests” and “big corporate companies” from doing the same.
Countryside Alliance Wales has erected posters and banners- including mock “farmland for sale” signs around the site and visitors are being encouraged to sign a petition directed at NRW opposing mass tree planting.
After two pandemic-hit years, The Royal Welsh Show is expected to attract big crowds to Powys, as people from all over Wales gather to celebrate farming and rural life.
Rachel Evans, director of Countryside Alliance Wales said: “It’s an honour to be back representing the Countryside Alliance at this year’s Royal Welsh Show. We are braced to greet thousands of people from across Wales and beyond and will be making them aware of the ongoing threat to Welsh farmland.
“Big corporate companies and the Welsh Government are buying up precious land to offset carbon by planting trees, but we are concerned that no real thought has been given to the long term impact this will have on our ability to remain self- sufficient.
“It threatens fragile rural communities, heritage, culture and the Welsh language. We simply cannot risk losing prime farmland which Wales needs to feed the nation”.
Freedom of information request
The Countryside Alliance launched its campaign and the petition against mass tree planting after a Freedom of Information request revealed the Welsh Government had spent £6 million buying land for trees with taxpayers’ money.
In February, the Welsh Government announced that new memorial woodlands would be created at three separate sites, including a section of farmland at Brownhill in Carmarthenshire’s Tywi Valley. T
The plans involve planting at least 60,000 trees, sparking fears that valuable agricultural land will be lost.
In the Carmarthenshire village of Cwrt-y-Cadno, Frongoch Farm was sold earlier last year to Foresight Group – a multi-billion pound private equity firm based in The Shard.
It plans to plant thousands of trees across the valley, prompting locals to launch a fightback, arguing that the afforestation will be largely made up of conifers that could damage soil and have a negative impact on the landscape.
There are also multiple reports of farmers being targeted through cold-calls made by agents working for investors wanting to buy farmland to plant trees.
Roy Noble, who has been a constant feature on Welsh radio and TV for decades, has already visited the stand to show his support for the petition.
In a previous statement, Mr. Noble said: “Without a doubt, planting trees is regarded and accepted as a way to combat the climate emergency and global warming, but ‘right trees, right place, right effect’ is, I feel, an acceptable mantra in that process.
“Planting on productive, rich arable land, surely is not, and, if done, the implication and effect will last generations.”
You can sign the petition online, here.
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