The Farming Social Hub - a voice for the farming community

People power prevents tree planting in Wales

A farming community in Wales has come together to prevent a London-based private equity firm from buying a farm and planting the majority with conifers.

A petition was launched by residents who live and farm in the Cothi Valley in Carmarthenshire, when Foresight Group’s plans were announced for the afforestation of Frongoch Farm in Cwrt-y-Cadno.

The trees would be planted to offset the carbon emissions of clients of the private equity firm.

The company had bought the livestock farm, and three others, and had indicated its intention to use Frongoch as a carbon offset for the activities of clients. Its plan included planting 40ha with three blocks of Douglas fir, Sitka spruce and Western red cedar.

What it hadn’t reckoned on was the scale of opposition to its plans for Frongoch, not only to the loss of productive farmland, but to opportunities lost to support biodiversity by planting native broad-leaved species instead of conifers.

More than 17,000 people signed a petition and campaigners have now been given an assurance that there will be a rethink, says Rhiannon Lewis, who organised the petition.

At a meeting with local residents last week, Foresight said it would adjust its initial scheme to accommodate the key concerns of the local farming community.

“A fundamental part of Foresight’s approach to forestry is to listen to and work closely with the local community,” said a spokesperson.