- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
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MIKE HEDGES MS CALLS FOR MORE PLANTING OF TREES AND FOR A CAMPAIGN TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PLANT A TREE FOR 23 AND ONE MORE FOR 24
Speaking from his Morriston Office, Local Senedd Member Mike Hedges MS said… ‘We need more trees and we need them quickly! We need to do everything we can to encourage the planting of trees by individuals, land owners and Councils. Planting trees will help us meet climate change goals, assist with flood prevention schemes and with the greening of former industrial areas.
I welcome the Minister taking up my idea of a scheme with a catchy title – the minister is welcome to use it, the slogan having first been used in the 1970s, by an MP by the name of Sydney Chapman. The 1970’s scheme led to the planting of over 150 000 new trees in 1973. If we can develop the scheme to plant 150 000 trees in 2023, we will be making a good start.
I would urge anyone with land to consider planting trees now, and in the coming years – each of us can do our bit by planting a tree!
Mike Hedges MS
I welcome the Welsh Government’s statement. I requested a statement on trees a few weeks ago, and thankfully we’ve now got one. Can I also say how much I welcome the tone of the Minister’s statement? We need a lot more trees to meet our climate change needs, to reduce flooding risk and to protect biodiversity. But we need to involve the public. If everyone with a garden planted one tree, that would be over one million trees. We need councils to plant trees in parks and on the roadside—we’ve lost far too many roadside trees—and they need to be planted in large numbers. If we can enthuse communities to plant trees on land that still bears industrial scars, as we saw in the lower Swansea Valley in the 1970s, it can transform an area completely.
I have two questions. There were schemes in the 1970s of ‘Plant a Tree in ’73’ and ‘Plant One More in ’74’. They were very successful. Can this be repeated in 2023 and 2024? And has the Minister reached the same conclusion I have that we need a forestry commission, and whilst it can share back-office functions with NRW, it will need to stand alone, promoting, monitoring and managing forestry?
16:55:17 / Lee Waters MS
Thank you very much, and that’s an inspired idea of, ‘Plant a tree in 2023 and another in 2024’. I will shamelessly take that off you, I think, Mike Hedges—I think that’s brilliant. I will take that away and work up something. Thank you very, very much; that’s an excellent suggestion.
In terms of a forestry commission-type body, perhaps I was too coded in my response, but I did say looking at the Irish example that we will need to learn from a body that adds value across the whole supply chain. They not only have far higher rates of tree planting than we do, but they’ve got a much better system for monetising that, and using it for economic advantage and generating local wealth from it. And I think we need to look at that, too.
One of the things I think we need to think about—and I didn’t want to do this in this short, sharp exercise, because we can’t be flippant about it—but to look at where the best set of functions lie in this, and whether NRW is the right body. I think we have set them up to stumble and fail sometimes by asking them to be both the regulator and the promoter, and I think that is extremely difficult for any body to do. As I say, they’re often criticised for how slow and bureaucratic it is, but they are doing things we’ve asked them to do, and part of what this function through this exercise is is to take some of that off them, to make it easier for them so that they’re not always getting it in the neck, but to put their effort into doing things that are going to help, which is what they want to do, to be fair. But I think there is an open question about what is the right body to do that co-ordinating function. It may not be NRW, but I want to reach that conclusion thoughtfully and patiently.