Now is the time for Wales to rewild

With recent headlines about the urgent need to act on climate change I urge the Welsh Government to stand up and lead the UK toward a greener future.

I write this article aimed at the Welsh Government because I live in Wales, am passionate about our environment and am frankly fed up of our nation getting screwed over by Westminster. We asked for a tidal lagoon to provide green energy and instead we get nuclear waste from Hinckley Point dumped into Cardiff bay.

What we need is an ambitious new First Minister that is committed to building a greener Wales. The current Welsh Government may argue that they already have schemes like ‘Plant’ – where 1 tree is planted in Wales and Uganda for every child that is born or adopted in the country. It looks good on paper but this token gesture is nowhere near close enough to help tackle climate change.

According to the Forestry Commission it takes around 0.5 hectares of forest to compensate for the carbon dioxide emissions associated with car fuel consumption over one average drivers lifetime. With around 2 million cars in Wales, that means we need 1 million hectares of forest just to break even.

Perhaps now is the time for the Welsh Government to consider large scale rewilding of parts of our country. The majority of the barren hills that dominate most of Wales shouldn’t be barren. They look like that because we have made them that way through deforestation, burning and introducing millions of wooly maggots (sheep) that munch their way across our countryside. If you haven’t read it already I recommend reading George Monbiot’s book ‘Feral’, which explains our unnatural landscape better than I ever could.

Of course, reforestation alone is no longer a solution to climate change – things have gone too far and we need to all look at making lifestyle changes too, but more trees will undeniably lock up our carbon emissions as well as bringing all the other benefits that a fully functional ecosystem provides.

It’s likely that any farmers reading this post will have strong opinions on the matter of rewilding and large scale tree planting. We clearly need farming but we clearly need a climate that we can all live in. The time for slanging matches between environmentalists and farmers has passed and we need to sit down and plan how we can make this work for everyone.

I urge the Welsh Government and the (soon to be) new First Minister to make the Welsh Environment a priority. Don’t look to Westminster – the Environment Minister can’t even be bothered to attend a climate change summit and England is on the brink of deforestation. We have our own devolved powers to solve environmental issues so please use them and be the country that leads the UK in tackling this mess.

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