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Cardiff-sized woodland needed

Woodland bigger than the size of Cardiff needs to be re-planted in Wales to make up for commercial forestry lost over the past 15 years, industry experts have warned. Source: BBC News

They believe ministers are placing too much emphasis on the environment at the expense of trees grown for timber.

Britain is currently the world’s third largest importer of wood.

Ministers said they were encouraging commercial forestry organisations to invest in woodland creation.

Conifer forests have been a familiar sight for half a century in Wales and have helped the timber industry grow. But Confor, which promotes the forestry industry, warns that at least 16,000 hectares – or 40,000 acres – of commercial forest have been lost since 2001 and need to be re-planted to meet needs.

Half of the woodland is managed by Natural Resources Wales with the other half by private companies.

As an industry, it is estimated to be worth more than £450m a year to the Welsh economy. But there is a conflict with environmental policy.

Successive ministers have wanted more native, broadleaf species of trees and better access for walkers and bike riders while conservationists claim commercial forests are bad for wildlife.

According to the Welsh Government and Confor 14% of land is forest with 306,000 hectares of woodland and a further 100,000 the target and there are 11,300 workers in the industry.