LlyG update – government policy important to community woodlands, June 2014

Posted on June 10, 2014 by

Llais y Goedwig Director David Williams gives his bi monthly round up of key developments important to community woodlands in one easy read update.

This update draws on Llais y Goedwig’s ongoing work with organisations including Natural Resources Wales, Wales Environment link (WEL),  Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA), and the National Forestry Policy Group within Welsh Government.

All members are welcome to take part in attending meetings and inputting on consultations. For more information contact the network here.

Policy update

It was not possible for a LlyG Director to attend the Natural Resources and Food Reference Group meeting that was held on 22nd May but as the papers are circulated in advance of meetings then there was some opportunity to comment (which LlyG did). The areas for consideration included update on NRW National Resources Management (NRM) proposals,  Climate change policy refresh,  further thinking around the Nature Fund,  Marine and Fisheries action plan, one aspect of the Environment Bill white paper and –  most relevant for the LlyG network – an overview of the Timber Strategy for Wales.

So why a Timber Strategy for Wales?  A few facts from the paper to the Reference Group:

1. Woodland covers 14% of the area of Wales, compared with the EU average of  37%. The Welsh National Forest (public and private) of 305,000 hectares is a mixture of broadleaf (45%) and conifer (55%) with approximately 63% in private sector ownership.

2. The 117,000 hectare woodland estate owned by Welsh Government and managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is almost 40% of the woodland in Wales. Forestry companies, NGOs and individuals, especially farmers, own the remainder, including the majority of  broadleaved woodland.

3. Forest management and timber processing contributes  £341 million to the Welsh economy annually and the sector employs around 9,500 people. These figures do not include the additional benefits that arise from the provision of access to woodland.   

Key drivers include:

1. The whole of the Welsh grown resource has a potential market if it is marketed and replaces imported timber.

2. The area of productive conifers has declined by 13000 hectares 2000 – 2010. This equates to nearly 500,000m3 of timber.  (This could more than double with the rapid felling of sites infected with Phytophthora ramorum). The consequences of this fall in productive area are that as the supply of conifers becomes increasingly fragile existing processing businesses will stop investing in Wales.

3. Timber production is often the primary source of direct revenue for woodland owners and drives management of their woodland – which in turn leads to many of the non-timber benefits such as recreation and better health to be supported.

NRW’s role in the management of the public estate and their position in the marketplace is currently being scrutinised by the Environment and Sustainability Committee of the National Assembly for Wales. This is an opportunity for the forestry sector to submit their views on the future of timber production in Wales and the evidence presented to the Committee will be considered as part of the development of the Timber Strategy.  LlyG have made a written submission to this committee , which you can download here – so now it is watch this space!

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