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Forestry Commission Wales’s tree planters are racing against the clock to complete their planting programme which has been delayed by the coldest winter for over thirty years.
The bad weather has meant that many forests have been inaccessible since mid December. Even when staff have been able to access the planting areas, the ground has been frozen and unsuitable to plant trees.
Now it’s all hands on deck as Forestry Commission Wales staff, planting contractors and apprentices attempt to plant three million trees.
In total, 1200 hectares are due to be replanted this year - one hectare is approximately the same size as the Millennium Stadium.
As well as conifers, 600,000 broadleaf trees, including oak, birch, rowan and ash, are being planted to increase the diversity of the Welsh Assembly’s woodlands.
The new trees will have an important role to play in reducing Wales’s carbon footprint. They will provide a low carbon energy source for future generations while the coniferous forests will produce construction grade timber as a substitute for concrete or steel.
Steve Mather, Area Operations Manager, said, "This has been the most challenging planting season I can remember.
"The very low temperatures and spells of snow mean that we have to carry on planting into April this year.
"Hopefully, spring won’t come along too soon, otherwise our young trees will come out of dormancy and be unsuitable for planting out in the forest."
Picture caption: a young oak tree
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