Entire Welsh farms being bought by outside companies for tree planting ‘almost on a weekly basis’
A farmers’ union has expressed alarm after receiving reports “almost on a weekly basis” of entire Welsh farms being snapped up for tree planting.
The trend comes as international businesses seek to offset their own carbon emissions by growing forests.
The Farmers’ Union of Wales said that the Welsh Government and Senedd needed to take “urgent accent” to control the market.
They said that rather than reducing their own carbon footprint, businesses were now finding it cheaper to buy up entire tracts of Welsh land instead.
“If someone plants trees on Welsh land and sells the carbon outside Wales then this does nothing to help Wales reduce its carbon footprint,” FUW President Glyn Roberts said.
He said that it risked undermining the ability of farms, Welsh agriculture or Wales as a whole to become carbon neutral.
Figures recently released by the Welsh Government have confirmed that a growing proportion of Welsh Government Glastir Woodland Creation (GWC) scheme money is used to pay for tree planting on Welsh farmland bought by investors with addresses outside Wales.
The figures also confirmed that the areas planted by such investors are on average many times greater than what is planted by those with Welsh addresses.
Glyn Roberts added: “Our longstanding concerns were confirmed in a recent Welsh Government response to a Senedd question by Plaid Cymru agriculture spokesperson Cefin Campbell, which revealed that between GWC application windows 8 (November 2019) and 10 (November 2020) the number of applicants with addresses outside Wales grew from 3% to 8%.”
He added that he had recently met the Minister for Climate Change Julie James and received confirmation in the meeting that the Welsh Government was aware of and looking into the issue, and shared many of the FUW’s concerns.