Wales Is Planting a National Forest to Combat Climate Change

Put this one on the list for next year

Wales arboretum in the fall
Wales is planning to plant almost 5,000 new acres of forest across the entire country.
Mark Hawkins / Barcroft Media via Getty

Late last year, the double-landlocked nation of Liechtenstein opened the Liechtenstein Trail, a 45-mile, 100-percent-continuous thru-hike, which can be walked north to south or vice versa. It opened in celebration of the small country’s 300th birthday, and as a way to jumpstart tourism and intrigue from thru-hikers and aspiring environmentalists who would otherwise visit more well-trodden trails.

In Wales, a similar plan is now underway, but with an ecological twist. The oft-forgotten country, located along the United Kingdom’s southwestern coast, is intent on securing nearly $18 million in woodland creation grants in order to connect existing woodland areas with a newly-planted 4,900 acres of forest, the BBC reported. All told, there would be enough trees for every child born or adopted in Wales, creating a cohesive, country-wide “ecological network,” with trails that Welsh citizens, or anyone with an appreciation for the outdoors, could come and walk.

Climate scientists are thrilled by the initiative. Upping national tree cover (a figure that currently sits at 19.4 percent) will help smother millions of tons of carbon dioxide, and play a role in helping the U.K. Committee on Climate Change meet its 2050 goals in cutting carbon emissions. Along the way, air quality will increase and local wildlife like Scottish wildcats, and red squirrels will see habitats restored and expanded.

On the other hand, many farmers are concerned that a national planting effort could drastically affect their way of life. Glyn Roberts, president of the Farmers’ Union of Wales, claims that the program would hurt “the backbone of [their] rural areas.” The disruption, though, has to happen. Farmers can at least take solace in the fact that more trees means less flooding, which will help protect soil. Plus, the plan includes millions of dollars in grants for farmers to plant trees on their own land.

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