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Trees and woods must be at the heart of nature recovery in Wales according to report

28 Nov 2023 4 minute read
Image: Coed Cadw

Stephen Price

A new report has launched arguing for tree planting, protection and restoration to be central to plans for nature recovery in Wales.

The report, titled Trees & Woods: At The Heart Of Nature Recovery In Wales, was launched at a Senedd event arranged by Coed Cadw, The Woodland Trust in Wales which centred around the launch of their new report calling for a ‘Townscapes and Treescapes’ Nature Recovery Program.

Decline noticed by young

At the event, 25 year old Tammie Esslemont from Bridgend spoke to members and highlighted that young people are currently feeling trapped, with less and less space available for the nature they love. 

Tammie was joined by a panel of practitioners from organisations working to recover nature across the rivers, hills, woods and farms of Wales including Afonydd Cymru, the Celtic Rainforest Alliance, Stump up for Trees, Keep Wales Tidy and Cefn Coch Farm.

Tammie, who volunteers with the Woodland Trust and sits on the charity’s Youth Council, opened the event by explaining: “Right now, young people like me are feeling trapped. Although our time on Earth has really just begun, we can see that trees, plants and wildlife are all declining within our communities. A concrete jungle is developing around us, with less and less space available for the nature we love.”

Jerry Langford, Policy Lead at Coed Cadw said: “The Welsh Government has already declared a nature emergency, and now is the time for action. Our new report is a ready guide for policy makers and local government members, which focuses on what is most needed to see the return of nature. It is crucial that everyone works together, underpinned by actions that only the government can lead.”

Tammie Esslemont, Woodland Trust Volunteer from Bridgend

Better protection vital

Wales is currently one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world, ranking 224 out of 240 countries on the Biodiversity Intactness Index. Just 9% of Wales’ native woods in favourable ecological condition and one third of all woodland species in rapid decline; ancient woodland is even rarer. Covering only 4.5% of Wales’ land surface, a third of this has been over-planted with non-native conifers (including areas of globally rare temperate rainforest).

Coed Cadw’s report sets out ten key steps which need to be taken to restore nature in Wales. It outlines the need to better protect woods and trees, restore more wooded habitats to good ecological condition, and create new native woods and trees to form wildlife-rich mosaics with other habitat types.

Speaking at the event, practitioners from organisations working to recover nature across the rivers, hills, woods and farms of Wales added their support for the measures outlined in the new report.

Farmer Joe Hope, Cefn Coch Farm, told members: “The sites across Wales with record-breaking diversity are places where old trees are surrounded by land kept open by grazing animals. Agroforestry research consistently shows benefits to farming, from soil improvement to better animal health and welfare.  Collaborative, landscape level projects can be crucial, not just in helping farmers access funds, but also in building relationships across generations, communities and landscapes.”

As well as outlining the strategies needed to kick start nature recovery in Wales, Coed Cadw’s report also warns that we are the last generation who has the time left to act.

Addressing Senedd members, Tammie implored: “We ask that you prioritise restoring nature by bringing together communities and people from all backgrounds to save our wildlife – because our differences lead to innovative and unique ideas. We need your help in ensuring that the generation after us won’t have to continue to watch our beautiful trees and wildlife wither away.”

Speaking at the event in response to the Coed Cadw report, Minister for Climate Change Julie James said: “There are a lot of challenging recommendations for myself and my officials to consider in this report. And all of them, I’m pleased to say, are important issues for the Programme for Government. We are absolutely, firmly committed to the protection of ancient woodlands and indeed, individual trees as well.”

To read the Coed Cadw report in full, click here, and in Welsh click here.must

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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
6 months ago

Coed Cadw’s excellent report is somewhat guilty of not seeing the wood for the trees. It is not only for nature restoration that we must grow many many trees (the right ones in the right places) but there are many other uses for which trees provide a valuable and hopefully sustainable resource into the future. Wood is an extraordinarily versatile material, in large part adding to the motivation for growing trees. We can replace high-carbon concrete and steel for buildings and other structural applications and oil-based plastics for interiors, furniture and toys. All wood-based plastics are biodegradable. This downstream processing… Read more »

Nigel Pugh
5 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Neil search The Roots to a Green Recovery – Coed Cadw

6 months ago

That’s it, keeping hiding all the buried monuments of Wales that disproves the “Welsh were nobodies” narrative.

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