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Commission appeals for farmers to branch out.

FARMERS and other landowners are being urged to plant trees on their land.

A network of experts has been set up to help them apply for the new Glastir grant to create woodlands.

Forestry Commission Wales, which developed the new grant on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, has trained 60 project officers based across the country to guide people through the process.

The new grant, which was launched at the end of October, aims to help fulfil the Assembly Government's commitment to increase the amount of tree cover in Wales, as well as the range of tree species.

The increased level of grant on offer - up to pounds 9,000 per hectare - reflects the Assembly Government's Woodlands for Wales strategy, which emphasises the need to plant more woodlands.

Richard Siddons, the commission's head of grants and regulation, said farmers own most of the plantable land in Wales, and their involvement is essential in the campaign to increase woodland.

He said: "Integrating woodland grants into Glastir will help the Welsh Assembly Government to meet the challenges of climate change, water usage and soil protection for valuable habitats and biodiversity.

"The project officers we have trained will help to prepare applications for farmers and other landowners in Wales who want to take advantage of the new woodland creation grant. All the officers are forestry experts and the service they provide is free of charge to the landowner."

As well as helping to tackle climate change by locking up carbon dioxide, planting more trees could result in a range of other benefits to farmers.

Geraint Jones, Glastir project officer for Coed Cymru, said the Glastir woods package offers a brilliant opportunity for farmers and other landowners.

He said: "It's a win-win situation.

Trees will provide shelter for stock, establish buffer zones to tackle diffuse pollution along water courses, enhance the value of the farm, promote and increase biodiversity, as well as providing a source of wood fuel in years to come."

The new grant is a stand-alone section within Glastir.

Landowners do not need to have applied for the Glastir All-Wales element and it will not have any effect on any future application to Glastir.

Farmers and landowners will be able to check quickly and easily if they are eligible for the grant with the help of a map viewer on the Commission website, showing areas where trees can be planted.

Forestry Commission Wales will continue to deliver woodland creation grants until 2013 via Glastir on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.

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The grant aims to help fulfil the Assembly Government's commitment to increase the amount of tree cover in Wales

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 11, 2011
Words:441
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