Woodknowledge Wales, represented by Gary Newman, were asked to speak at an event organised by the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) in Cardiff on 16 May 2018. The event was aimed at gathering support to create a cross party group for woodlands, forestry and timber. The purpose of this cross party group would be to make links between the different departments and devolved administrations to better communicate the benefits that our sector can offer. Hopefully this will lead to more support for the woodlands and forestry sector to supply all the products we need from forests.

The event was sponsored by Simon Thomas AM and was held in Tŷ Hywel, Cardiff Bay by kind permission of the Welsh Assembly. The other Assembly Members who attended were, Mandy Jones, Mark Isherwood, Mike Hedges, Dia Lloyd and David Melding.

Martin Bishop, Confor, made the point that, “The sector is booming at the moment with increasing prices and much greater activity. The woodlands, forestry and timber sector can deliver huge benefits to Wales, even with the comparatively small area we now have. However we must make substantial land use change in favour of forestry in Wales if the sector is to expand and increase delivery of those benefits.

Photo of Eleanor Harris, Confor, giving a presentation

Dr Eleanor Harris, Policy Researcher, Confor.

The benefits of woodland, forestry and timber cross many different policy areas. The sector can help Wales mitigate climate change, clean our air, create a sustainable construction industry, boost Welsh manufacturing, manage water flows, provide places for recreation, deliver health and wellbeing benefits and improve biodiversity. All of these benefits are cross sectoral and could positively impact on a wide range of devolved areas.

With the rural sector facing many new challenges post Brexit the woodland and forestry sector could provide stability and increase rural incomes by providing secure employment which is not dependent on long term subsidies.

A cross party group would enable the significant benefits of a woodland, forestry and timber sector to be communicated more widely and help increase influence within Welsh Government. From economic growth to carbon reduction, from housing to health and from leisure to productivity, the contribution of the woodlands and forestry sector is a good news story which deserves to be heard more widely.

Woodknowledge looks forward to working closely with Confor and other interested parties to ensure that the Cross Party Group for Woodlands, Forestry and Timber is a driver for change.