Forestry and climate change: case studies
The lack of affordable housing is a big problem in Wales, especially for rural communities. The Welsh Assembly Government has made it a priority to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live in a decent home, whether for sale or rent, in the community they want to live in.
The Forestry Commission is supporting this goal by identifying suitable land it manages in areas where there is a current housing need. Two communities have already come forward and are working with the Commission to develop affordable housing schemes, including the Heulfryn Regeneration Steering Group in Ceinws, Gwynydd.
We believe that housing should be built along the same principles that we manage our woodlands: sustainably; balancing the needs of wildlife, habitats, and landscapes with social and economic demands. Sustainable houses use less energy in construction and are more energy-efficient to live in. That means lower climate change emissions, and lower utility bills for residents.
There are many different aspects to sustainable housing. These include: the design of the building to take best advantage of natural light, the choice of materials used and how they are produced, the energy needs of the housing and those who live in it and the location of local workplaces and transport links.
We are asking communities and housing developers to follow a seven-step process (produced by the Building Research Establishment, working with the Forestry Commission) to assess the sustainability of proposed housing designs and construction. This will help them to develop a housing project that is better for the planet!
The first two affordable rural housing projects in Ceinws and Dinas Mawddwy will be shining examples of sustainable housing and show the way for other Welsh rural communities.