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Every household in Wales will be offered a free tree to plant as part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to tackle climate change, Deputy Minister Lee Waters promised today.
The bold new policy will give people the chance to choose a tree of their own to plant or opt to have a tree planted on their behalf.
Speaking at a visit to a major Coed Cadw woodland creation project in Neath during National Tree Week, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change confirmed the Welsh Government had partnered with the Woodland Trust to deliver the campaign.
The first trees will be available to collect from March, from one of five regional community hubs that will be established. The Welsh Government aims to set up a further 20 hubs across Wales by October 2022.
Earlier this year, the Deputy Minister for Climate Change led a deep dive exercise into tree planting and timber, which identified a set of actions the Welsh Government needed to take forward to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change.
The Deputy Minister said: “Trees are amazing - they save lives by keeping our air clean, they improve people's physical and mental health, they are essential for tackling our nature emergency, improving biodiversity and, of course, in tackling climate change. The deep dive made it clear to me that everyone will have a part to play if we are to be successful in tackling climate change and realising our ambitions to create a National Forest for Wales. I am therefore pleased to announce we have partnered with the Woodland Trust to deliver a campaign that will provide every household in Wales an opportunity to plant a free tree in Wales. This will enable people in Wales to further understand and experience the many benefits that trees can provide, not only to the environment but also to people’s health and wellbeing.”
New statistics revealed today by the Ramblers show the value we are placing on getting fresh air and enjoying being out in nature through walking this winter.
As we go into another festive season overshadowed by the threat of Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses, getting some fresh air is the most popular motivating reason for walking for leisure -- it was cited by seven out of ten walkers (70%), according to a poll conducted by YouGov plc exclusively for the Ramblers.
Enjoying being in nature would encourage nearly half of respondents (48.6%) to walk, and 40.1% said getting off the sofa would encourage them to do so. Nearly a third of respondents (30%) saw themselves as ‘health walkers’ who walked regularly to improve their health and wellbeing, whilst over a third (36.3%) said they walked to relax, perhaps at weekends. Only 7% said they were reluctant walkers, demonstrating just how much the British have embraced walking.
Our Walk Your Way in Winter campaign
These new statistics are released as part of our Walk Your Way in Winter campaign to encourage everyone to embrace the season and get the maximum enjoyment from walking in winter, no matter what type of leisure walker they see themselves as.
Tom Platt, Director of Advocacy and Operations for the Ramblers said: “Enjoying walking, connecting with nature, and getting fresh air are things that more of us than ever have valued since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as we head into winter the Ramblers is here to inspire and encourage everyone to embrace the season and get the most out of being outdoors. A winter walk has proven health and wellbeing benefits, like topping up your Vitamin D levels and boosting your mood, but we know the shorter days and colder weather can make it harder to get motivated, so we’ve got lots of inspiration and tips to get everyone out enjoying winter walking.”
A new study published today reveals that visits to woodlands for recreation could save around £26 million a year in treating mental ill-health in Scotland.
The study also estimates that trees in urban populations could reduce Scotland’s bill for antidepressants by around £1 million each year.
The research study is the first of its kind, demonstrating the “avoided costs” to the NHS through improved well-being by visiting woodlands and nature.
Welcoming the study, Environment Minister Màiri McAllan said: “Scotland’s forests and woodlands offer so many environmental, social and economic benefits to society. During Covid-19 pandemic, access to woodlands has become even more important to individuals in supporting and maintaining their well-being. It is widely recognised that spending time in woodlands can have a positive effect on alleviating conditions such as depression and anxiety. This study is important because we now have a clear monetary value on how much our woodland resource could be worth in tackling poor mental health.”
The study, carried out by Forest Research, was commissioned by Scottish Forestry, the Welsh Government and the Forestry Commission in England.
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