Plant! scheme: 140,000 trees for babies to create Welsh woodland

Planting at Coed Ysgubor Wen
Image caption Local schoolchildren plant the majority of the trees around Wales

About 140,000 trees have been planted in six woodland sites as part of a project to grow a sapling for every new baby born or adopted in Wales.

Plant! was started four years ago to create more forests and to raise children's environmental awareness.

Forestry Commission Wales said most of the native Welsh trees had been planted by youngsters under the scheme.

Every baby is given the location of the woodland where their tree is. Plant is the Welsh word for children.

The children also receive a certificate through the post soon after their birth or adoption, stating that a tree has been planted for them.

The Welsh government pledged to plant a tree for every child born or adopted in Wales from 1 January 2008 to help create a Welsh national forest of native trees at several sites around Wales.

The original idea came from a Cardiff schoolgirl, Natalie Vaughan, who wrote to her assembly member, suggesting that planting a tree would be a good way to make young people think about their environment and the role they have in preserving it.

Since then, six new woodlands have been created across Wales, totalling 75.5 hectares (186.5 acres), with Forestry Commission Wales currently negotiating to buy another two.

Every month the project's team receives details of how many babies have been born from the Office of National Statistics.

They then arrange for a mixture of native broad-leaf trees to be planted, including oak, ash, birch, cherry, rowan and willow.

Each tree costs about £8 but the Forestry Commission said it saved money by arranging for local schoolchildren to plant the majority of the trees, rather than contract planters.

Image caption Native Welsh trees are planted at the sites, including oak, birch and cherry

"The project is going really well and has snowballed since it started four years ago," said Layla Cash, Forestry Commission Wales' Plant! project officer.

"The woodland sites are all new and create somewhere which the whole local community can use.

"They have also been used to help with children's education. For example, at the latest woodland site on Anglesey, A-level pupils learnt about planting the trees as part of the Welsh baccalaureate.

"They then taught the whole school and together they planted 10,000 trees, which was brilliant."

She said the idea was to use derelict sites to create new woodland, with some trees being planted on former agricultural sites owned by the Woodland Trust and local authorities.

Two woodland sites in south Wales have been created on land from coal reclamation.

"In theory, the trees at the first sites which were planted four years ago should be at adult shoulder height now," added Ms Cash.

"When the woodland is first planted it doesn't look much because the trees are so small but they start to grow quickly after about three years, so soon we will have much bigger trees.

"These trees will be there forever to be enjoyed by future generations."

Plant! is being run by Coed Cadw (Woodland Trust) and Forestry Commission Wales.

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