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Forestry Commission Wales has embarked on a major review into how its woodland grants are managed in future.
Currently, Forestry Commission Wales operates the Better Woodlands for Wales (BWW) grant scheme which provides support for good quality, sustainable woodland management. Grant aid is provided for the creation and management of woodlands based on an approved, long-term management plan that meets the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard.
Forestry Commission Wales is now exploring the possibility of transferring the full range of its grant support across all woodland, new or existing, to the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for Rural Affairs.
Since the publication of the Welsh Assembly Government’s Woodlands for Wales Strategy in 2009, three years after the BWW scheme was launched, the emphasis on woodland creation has been broadened to include climate change, carbon capture and water management.
As farmers own most of the plantable land in Wales, their involvement is essential to expand the country’s woodland cover. However, research shows that the majority of the BWW scheme funding goes into existing managed woodlands, not into creating new woodlands.
As well as boosting the funding available for the creation of woodlands, woodland owners would have access to a wider range of other opportunities via the Department for Rural Affairs such as training, information and networking.
Richard Siddons, Head of Grants and Regulations at Forestry Commission Wales, said, "It is important that we start to look at what we want the next Rural Development Plan for Wales to deliver for woodlands.
"The emphasis on woodland creation in the Woodlands for Wales Strategy means that we have to change its approach to engage with a wider group of landowners, particularly in agriculture.
"In addition, there is the potential to increase the overall support for trees and woodlands via the next Rural Development Plan."
Discussions with the Department for Rural Affairs are underway and, if agreement is reached, a final recommendation to transfer woodland grants will be made to Minister for Rural Affairs later this year.
The BWW scheme remains operational in its existing format until at least the end of 2012. For information on the scheme, contact Forestry Commission Wales on 0300 068 0300, email FCWEnquiries@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or see www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
NOTES TO EDITORS
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to the private sector and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Mary Galliers, firstname.lastname@example.org 0300 068 0057.