Denbighshire firm, Clifford Jones Timber, has issued a warning this week, expressing concerns that Wales is running out of timber. Calling for more trees to be planted, the business manufactures over two and a half million fence posts per year, making it one of the largest timber companies in the country.
Concerned over a failure to meet planting targets, Penny Lloyd, purchasing director of the Ruthin-based company, worries Wales will become a ‘tree-free zone’, putting immense pressure on an industry worth £450million.
“The forest industry is an essential part of the Welsh economy, and together with its ancillary businesses, sustains many rural communities.
“An on-going programme of commercial timber planting is vital for the survival of our industry.
Comparing the state of our forests to the 1970s, Lloyd paints a rather alarming picture, explaining that 7,000 acres of trees used to be planted every year. Fast-forward 55 years and Wales is planting just 250 acres, with the crop taking 20 plus years to reach a state of maturity. Envisioning the future of the industry, Clifford Jones Timber makes us aware that we have lost 40,000 acres of forestry in the last 15 years ‘and that needs to be replaced if our timber industry is to survive’.
According to the firm, Wales now exists as one of the least wooded areas on the whole of Europe, with less that 15% of the country being forested. At present, the Welsh timber industry employs 11,000 people, holding a responsibility to protect the future of Wales with regards to its attitude towards the timber market.
“There’s a huge market for our timber. Every sawmill in Wales would double or treble production if the timber was there to feed that mill,” said the Clifford Jones chairman Richard Jones.
“We are constantly looking at ways of diversifying so that we get the maximum from the timber we bring in through the gates but that is in increasingly short supply because of lack of investment since the 1990s” Jones continues.
However, with Natural Resources Wales’ commitment to help the industry, could this worry be coming to an end?