The Welsh Government must introduce legislation to block inappropriate tree-planting
Language pressure-group Dyfodol i’r Iaith is calling upon the Welsh Government (WG) to legislate to prevent tree-planting on inappropriate land and to ensure that the profit from any tree-planting remains within Wales.
Dyfodol accepts that we need to plant trees and thus contribute to the international effort to tackle climate change and supports the WG target of planting a total area of 180,000 hectares.
As well as capturing carbon tree-planting could be advantageous in several other ways.
It could make sense to plant different varieties of trees on poor-quality agricultural land in order to produce timber, a profitable and renewable product. Over time thus timber would strengthen and diversify our rural economy.
Secondly, new woodlands would provide wildlife habitats, thus contributing to the all-important global commitment to protect biodiversity. This would in turn create jobs and enrich the quality of life in our countryside.
Trees also retain moisture on the ground and help to prevent flooding.
Where to Plant?
However we need to ensure that planting occurs on land that is appropriate to the purpose. Planting on good-quality farmland should be avoided, especially fertile meadows as well as peatlands which are important stores of carbon. Certainly we need to prevent the planting of entire farms.
Poor-quality land , mainly steep hillsides where bracken thrives, is where we should be planting
Trees as a Welsh Asset
In the new economic climate beginning to emerge as a result of commitments to protect the natural world, the capacity to absorb carbon will acquire financial value.
At present there is a real danger that a large part of that potentially substantial financial advantage (as much as £1bn over five years) will be captured by powerful external business interests, causing major economic damage to the countryside and destroying many farms on our best land.
What’s to be Done?
WH could and should use planning legislation to block the intervention of external commercial interest in this field. New legislation would identify what kinds of land are suitable for tree-planting and prohibit planting in inappropriate locations.
It would not be long before big external organisations lost any interest in planting the relatively small areas of land which make sense in Wales. The kind of financial support which WG currently provides would continue and flow into our rural economy.
Also the carbon thus captured could be used to offset greenhouse gas emissions (about 15% of total Welsh emissions) arising from the farming of livestock for the meat and milk which is vital for our rural economy.
Dyfodol’s view is that it is our native businesses that should profit from these important developments, not external financial interests which want to seize our natural assets and enable them to continue the “business as usual” that threatens the future of humanity and the natural world.
Cynog Dafis board member of Dyfodol i’r Iaith which is a non–party-political organisation in Wales that works to ensure that the Welsh language occupies a central role in Welsh life and remains a priority on the political agenda.
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