Carbon-offsetting company change plans for tree planting at Welsh farm after 17,000 sign petition
A company from London which had bought a farm with the intention of planting trees in mid-Wales has indicated that they will modify their plans after a petition was set up by residents.
Foresight, which is headquartered in the Shard in London, has bought Frongoch farm in Cwrt-y-Cadno, and three other farms.
Farming unions have recently spoken out with concerns about companies buying farms in Wales with the intention of planting trees in order to offset their carbon emissions.
Following a meeting with residents in Pumpsaint last night however, campaigners said that they had been told that the plans would be changed as a result of the local response.
Over 17,000 people had signed a petition opposing the plans and expressing concerns about the proposed planting of trees on the agricultural land at Frongoch.
The petition was set up by Rhiannon Lewis who lives in the area and described Cwrt-y-cadno as “an ancient area of exceptional beauty” which is “under threat of being irreversibly destroyed”.
“The good news is that Foresight have now indicated that they are prepared to listen to the local community and to adapt their plans, but we need to continue to register our opposition,” she said.
“We are asking Foresight to leave the agricultural fields for continued farming and to plant deciduous broadleaf tree species native to the British Isles in keeping with the natural landscape.”
She added that Foresight’s original plan would have “planted commercial, non-native conifers over most of the existing fields and hillside, selling off carbon credits to their financial investors for profit”.
“Such a proposed plantation would destroy productive agricultural land, both on the valley floor and on the hilltop, which has been sustainably sheep farmed for generations.”
Nation.Cymru has contacted Foresight for a response to the latest development.
They had previously said: “We will be planting a diverse species mix at Frongoch comprising over 25% non-commercial broadleaves. Foresight never plants trees on land that can support productive, commercial food crop growth.
“A key part of our approach to afforestation is always to consult and work with local communities before any planting begins.”
National Farmers Union in Wales has previously warned that rural farming communities in Wales could be “decimated” if plans for blanket afforestation go ahead.
John Davies, NFU Cymru president said: “There is a great deal of concern because family farms are the backbone of our rural communities in Wales and if you see this happening, that removes those families from those areas, and it removes those job opportunities for 30, 40 years.
“What we want to see is the forestry approach integrated into farming here. This isn’t an option of trees good, cows bad, this is about fully integrating our woodland approach into our agricultural going forward.
“If you’re seeing a monoculture approach to this and blanket afforestation – that’s a fundamental change and that’s not what we’re looking for in Wales. It’s decimation of that community really, isn’t it?”
The Welsh Government said it will launch a consultation on its National Forest plan after last year launching plans to create a National Forest for Wales, which was designed to increase the number of trees being planted every year to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.