Why Does Wales Need More Trees?

The UK as a whole is one of the least forested countries in Europe. A United Nations report released in 2010 put the figure at just 11,200 square miles across all four nations – which amounts to just under twelve percent of total landmass.

While this amount pales in comparison to the Europe-wide average of 44% (and in particular to the Finnish one of 72%), it nevertheless represented a slight uptick in tree-coverage after centuries of decline. The last time our land was quite so green and pleasant was more than two centuries ago, shortly before a drive of ship-building in preparation for wars against Napoleon. At that time, the figure was a paltry 5%. It’s thought that, by the end of this century, the figure could well reach the 15% recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.

In 2013, the welsh government decided to set up Natural Resources Wales. This body took over the functions of a number of existing ones, such as the welsh versions of the forestry commission and the environment agency. This new organisation aims to address the lack of trees in Wales.

Wales is among the least forested of the home nations – and the Welsh government hopes to plant 100,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030, in order to redress this balance. But why should this matter to the Welsh? What is it that forests do that’s so special? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of planting more trees, and why this is good news for anyone living in wales.


An enormous amount of the products we fill our home with are made from timber. If you’re reading this indoors, the chances are that you’re able to see something wooden right now – whether it’s oak, pine or chipboard.

Woodland is a natural resource, just as much as a gold mine or oil well might be, and therefore represents an economic boon. Moreover, unlike those two examples, a forest is infinitely renewable – just keep planting trees at the same rate that you’re chopping them down and, theoretically, you’ve a never-ending stream of this glorious material.

Currently, that’s not the case in Wales. As a consequence of not having as many trees around as other nations, the UK must import tonnes of timber every year. With more widespread domestic tree coverage, this could be avoided.

Wales’ forests are enormously important to its economy. You’re never far from a North Wales timber supplier – and the construction, furniture and DIY sectors are reliant on a steady supply of this fundamental resource.

Even if we’re to disregard the amount forestry contributes to builders supplies in north Wales, there are other benefits that are worth also considering. Let’s look at some of them.


Wooded catchments can help to protect the quality of drinking water. Moreover, they can also help to mitigate the harm that floods can cause. With recent flooding being a cause of considerable economic and emotional trauma, this benefit should not be overlooked!


Trees can help to provide shade and shelter. The canopy of a forest provides natural protection against extreme weather conditions – not only for humans, but for the animals that live there as well.


All of this plant life needs to reproduce – and many of them need to do so by spreading pollen. This provides pollinators like bees with a habitat. Recent years have seen a marked decline in bumblebee numbers, with two species already rendered extinct. Unless this trend is reversed, our ecosystem will be placed in great peril, and forests provide a means of reversal.


Airborne pollutants pose a substantial public health risk. Trees can capture these harmful substances and put them to good use. It’s partially for this reason that tree-planting efforts aren’t just limited to remote forests, but to city centres, too.

Soil quality

Forests provide a never-ending supply of decaying plant matter, which means that the soil is constantly enriched and stabilized. This helps to prevent erosion, and prevent slips.

Climate Change

Trees are one of the easiest and most effective weapons in the fight against carbon emissions. They consume carbon-dioxide and store its carbon content, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.


Thus far, we’ve largely examined the more practical benefits of forest expansion. But forests are also places of great natural beauty, and therefore excellent destinations for recreational purposes. They provide a place for leisure, for learning and for spiritual reflection. And what could be more valuable than that?


theme by teslathemes