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Focus on Forests (text version)

Coed Cymru, Wales

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The natural forest of Britain is mostly temperate hardwood. However, very little ancient forest survives. About 45% of the woodland that did exist in 1945 has since gone. Although forest cover has been increasing, until recently much of it was non-native conifer plantations. Because of Britain’s great need for wood, the Government encouraged this through generous tax allowances.

However, policy has changed and now grants are available to help owners of broadleaf woodlands. Coed Cymru is an organisation which provides training and advice to landowners on managing their woodlands and producing timber for sale. It is funded through various local and national government agencies, the EU and WWF.

The aim is to encourage ‘continuous forest management which benefits the environment and the rural economy’. Since the scheme started in 1986, management plans have been drawn up for a total of 15,000 ha. Most of the woodlands were on farms and considered as unproductive land. Others were degraded through over-grazing by livestock. Coed Cymru is helping the landowners use ‘close to nature’ forestry which preserves mixed age and mixed species woodlands As well as advising on improved sylviculture and felling methods, they also help with obtaining grants and marketing. The timber is of high quality but of smaller dimensions than usually wanted by timber buyers (and smaller than much wood obtained from tropical forests). This means that a specialist market is needed where this wood will fetch a good price. Otherwise, the woodland owners will not make enough profit to make it worth while. Coed Cymru is now playing a central role in developing new products which can make best use of the wood. At present, all this work is very dependent on grants, but the timber producers themselves are beginning to show a profit.

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Simple but beautiful furniture is being produced based on prototypes developed by Coed Cymru to suit the kind of wood produced through the scheme.

A picture showing an area of Forest .

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This site is funded by DFID and has been produced by the World Land Trust.