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Forestry in Wales
Native woodland is not a rare and restricted habitat in Wales. In 1919, when the Forestry Commission was set up, the forests of Wales covered less than 5% of the land area. Today, they have reached around 14%, with Welsh Government targets set at planting an additional 100,000 hectares in the next 20 years, bringing the total coverage to 19%. Yet, even at its current size, Wales has six times more native woodland than lowland heathland, and twice as much as our lowland acid grassland.
What's the problem?
Only 7% of priority woodland wildlife is stable or increasing. Woodland plants such as spreading bellflower and lungwort lichens continue their decline.
Why is this happening?
The simple answer is that too many of our woods are neglected, mismanaged or undermanaged. This is the major threat to their plant life and therefore to the other wildlife that depends upon a rich woodland flora. It would seem that Government ambition to create woodland at a rate of around 5,000 hectares per year is too simplistic an approach.
What can be done?
More woodland is a well-intentioned aim but what we really need is better woodland. If our native woodland – much of it of international importance – is to be protected and enjoyed by future generations, then all woodland owners need to take a more informed and more active approach to woodland management. We do not need more woodland empty of wildlife and devoid of natural beauty.