FARMERS will be paid the total costs of planting trees and creating new woodland in Wales. 

Welsh ministers have confirmed payment rates will rise to cover 100 per cent of 2023's outgoings as part of the nation's drive to get its planting rates back on track. 

While officials have set out to put 86 million trees in the ground by the end of the decade, just 580 hectares of new woodland were created in Wales in the 12 months prior to the end of March 2022, well short of the unofficial target of 5,000 ha/year. 

READ MORE: 'A great deal of concern': Why is tree planting so contentious in Wales?

Climate change minister Julie James said: “We are in a climate emergency and trees are our lifeline, by planting trees it removes greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere through carbon storage.

“Earlier this year, we spoke to the farming and forestry sectors to better understand potential blockers to woodland creation.

“Payment rates were an issue; we listened and are very pleased to confirm a substantial uplift today – we will now keep the rates under review, particularly while inflation remains high.”

The new rates will see £5,146 paid out per hectare in the enhanced mixed woodland category (up from the previous figure of £3,600) and native woodland carbon planting pay out £6,170 per ha, a rise of nearly 40 per cent. 

Elsewhere, native woodland 1,600 and 1,100 categories have increased by over 50 per cent from £3,000 to £4,550 and £2,100 and £3,302, respectively. 

Nowhere in the UK is tree planting as controversial as it is in Wales. John Davies, president of the National Farming Union in Wales (NFU Cymru), has previously said rural farming communities in Wales could be “decimated” if blanket afforestation is allowed, while there are reports some farmers will refuse to engage with the Sustainable Farming Scheme, which could see the need for 10 per cent of farmland to be covered in trees or funding withheld. 

Lesley Griffiths, minister for North Wales and rural affairs, added: “We want to work with farmers on the principle of ‘the right tree in the right place’.

Forestry Journal: Lesley GriffithsLesley Griffiths

“Planting trees can also become an asset over time – such as by providing shelter for livestock or income from the timber."

You can read more and find out how to apply here: Forestry grants | GOV.WALES