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A couple who have farmed their mid-Wales smallholding for the past 22 years are the first recipients of the new Glastir woodland creation grant.
Michael and Sonia Snead are planning to take life a little easier in their 200-year-old farmhouse near Builth Wells by reducing their stock levels and planting a small native woodland.
With the help of the new grant, which was launched at the end of October, they plan to create a woodland of ash, oak, wild cherry and rowan on 0.32 hectares of their land this spring.
“We are keen to help reverse the loss of habitat which we can see has happened in the UK since the 1940s,” Michael said.
“We have done a couple of other small woodland plantings in the past and we know how quickly the trees will grow if they are well guarded and looked after. It doesn’t take long for wildlife to return as long as the trees you plant are native to the area.”
The tree-planting grant, which was developed by Forestry Commission Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, is a stand-alone section within Glastir. Landowners do not need to have applied for the Glastir All-Wales element and it will not have any effect on any future application to Glastir.
Under the scheme, farmers can get up to £9,000 per hectare over a period of 15 years to plant new woodlands on eligible land, as well as a contribution towards fencing costs.
“Now we are cutting down on our stock levels to 40 ewes and seven Welsh blacks, the new woodland creation grant is an ideal way for us to use our land,” Michael added.
The new grant aims to help fulfil the Assembly Government’s commitment to increase the amount of tree cover in Wales, as well as the range of tree species.
It is available to all landowners in Wales who have more than 0.25 ha of suitable land available for planting new woodlands.
FC Wales Grants and Regulation operations manager, Rachel Chamberlain, said, “Creating new woodland will help the Assembly Government to meet the challenges of climate change, water usage and soil, and offer protection for valuable habitats and biodiversity.
“We’re delighted to assist Mr and Mrs Snead in planting trees on their land and hope that this is the first of many farm woodlands created under this new scheme.”
There are four different grant rates available, depending upon the choice of tree species to be planted. Michael and Sonia’s application was approved on 20 January in the category, “Native Woodland for Biodiversity”.
The grant rate is £1890/ha initially, followed by two establishment payments of £500/ha per year for two years. There is also a compensatory payment for 15 years for removing land from agriculture of £300/ha a year for farmers and £66/ha a year for non-farmers.
Farmers and landowners can quickly check if they are eligible for the grant with the help of a Map Viewer which can be accessed on the FC Wales website, showing areas where trees can be planted.
Farmers and other land owners who want to apply for the new Glastir grant to create woodlands on their land can call on the services of experts who will guide them through process free of charge.
If you’d like more information on the scheme, ring 0300 068 0300 and ask for the Forestry Commission Wales Glastir woodland team, e-mail email@example.com or look online www.forestry.gov.uk/glastirwoodland
NOTES TO EDITORS
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.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
Press office contact: Clive Davies, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0300 068 0061.