A sheep farmer from Powys has embraced the changing face of farming and planted trees to provide a new income stream and help the environment.

In March this year, Derek Morgan from Safn Coed farm near Llangurig, Powys, planted 50,000 trees on 18 ha of his 80-ha farm, through the Welsh Government’s Glastir Woodland Creation scheme. As well as providing a source of income for 12 years, the trees help to alleviate flooding, combat climate change by storing carbon and provide a habitat for wildlife.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW), who ensure Glastir Woodland Creation proposals meet exacting standards, worked with Derek and his Llandovery-based agent, Alan Wilson MICFor of Tilhill Forestry, to devise a planting plan that enhances the local landscape. The higher and steeper parts of the holding have been planted with a mixture of broadleaves such as oak and birch, and conifers such as Sitka spruce.

Within 12 years, the first crop thinnings will provide small-diameter wood both for on-farm use and off-farm sale. Planting, maintenance and eventually felling will provide local employment.

Derek Morgan said: “I chose to plant trees as a long-term investment. I’m not getting any younger and replacing some of my sheep stock with a marketable timber crop will ease my workload, as I am beyond retirement age, and protect the family farm.

“Fifty years ago, I was paid to clear this land, as the post-war focus was on maximising production to become, as a country, self-reliant on food.

“Today, the challenges we face are different. Farmers are fully aware of climate change and this scheme gives an opportunity to help to combat climate change by locking up carbon from the atmosphere and helps to reduce the risk of flooding.”