Welsh forest locations earmarked as ‘exemplar sites’

Locations across Wales have been earmarked as “exemplar sites” for the National Forest – a connected network of forests which will span the length of Wales.

Announced in the spring, the National Forest will be a long-term project matching the scale and ambition of the Wales Coast Path, linking together a network of woodlands across Wales.

As well as improving existing woodlands to meet the National Forest standard, plans will also see more trees planted by the Welsh government in collaboration with partners such as communities; farmers; foresters; and public bodies.

Along with providing spaces for leisure and nature, new managed woodlands created for the National Forest will also help to capture and store carbon – and the timber will provide a sustainable resource for construction.

The 14 new sites announced today are part of the Welsh government estate, and are managed and maintained by Natural Resources Wales.

The branding marking the National Forest has also been unveiled, with the logo and other materials revealed today.

Climate week Wales

The announcement comes as part of Climate Week Wales, during which representatives from Welsh Government and partners will discuss the route to COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow next year – and Wales’ first carbon budget.

Next year, the Welsh government will also work alongside partners to discuss the features and benefits which new and existing woodland could provide before they can form part of the National Forest – with good existing infrastructure and connectivity including bridleways, pathways and access.

The National Forest would also create connected woodlands across the length and breadth of Wales.

Alongside establishing the National Forest, earlier this year also saw the Welsh government launched a new window of the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme, with a fourfold increase in the budget to £8 million.

The scheme received more than 350 expressions of interest from people wanting to plant new woodlands in Wales and contracts have now been offered to successful applicants.

A further £9 million window of the scheme will also open this month, leading to more than £17 million allocated to woodland creation this year – the largest such allocation since devolution, and more than the first eight windows of the Glastir Woodland Creation scheme put together

Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs said:

I am delighted to announce the very first sites which will form part of our National Forest.

“They are among the very best woodland in Wales, and will serve as exemplars for the benefits we would expect from other sites and new woodlands before they could become part of the National Forest.”