CLA Wales is calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to maintain a proactive approach to woodland management once responsibility shifts from the Forestry Commission to Glastir.
The rural economy experts say landowners want reassurance that the Welsh Assembly Government is interested in securing a long-term future for woodland and forest they already manage.
They say it is a vitally important sector to Wales economically and in terms of climate change, amenity value and landscape. There is concern over the financial support for the management of woodland and how it will be delivered.
They also say more UK timber should be used in construction. Other issues of concern are the need to promote important new roles such as carbon capture and what WAG expertise there will be available under Glastir.
CLA North Wales Director Dawn Harding Maddocks added: "The private sector own and manage over fifty percent of the woodlands in Wales and are keen to maintain existing forestry. The future emphasis must maintain a balance towards the management of that existing forestry rather than focus entirely on the planting of new woodlands. To produce timber of the right quality for construction as part of the low carbon economy it has to be managed.
"They do also need reassurance about the long term. They want and need to know what suitable structures will be in place to support the sector and deliver under Glastir and they want a dedicated team of forest officers in place within the WAG.
"The Minister’s decision to close the Better Woodlands for Wales woodland grant scheme delivered by the Forestry Commission for Wales from January 1 2011 came as a surprise, it having taken longer in inception than implementation, but a transfer of responsibility for woodland grants to the Department for Rural Affairs under Glastir can make sense if these concerns are properly addressed. However there are many anomalies to be considered, not least the impact on the professional commercial forestry sector and economy, and the implications for future supply and milling capacity."
Dawn Harding Maddocks added that landowners are also concerned that any new scheme is administered along clear, simple lines and WAG learn any lessons from Scotland’s experience. It is in no-one’s interests to endure a repeat of the complications involved in setting up Better Woodland for Wales and the sooner these issues are addressed the greater the chance that ambitions for Welsh forestry may be met.
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