RCT Tree, Woodlands and Hedgerow Strategy

Cabinet has this week approved its new Tree, Woodlands and Hedgerow Strategy before commencing an eight-week consultation process with residents and other stakeholders.

It will form part of the Council’s wider Climate Change Strategy and its commitment to making a difference to the planet and provide the foundation of its ambition to deliver RCT’s largest tree-planting programme in a generation.

The Council recognises the importance of trees, vegetations and soils as they play vital roles in our carbon-storing cycle. The Tree, Woodlands and Hedgerow Strategy provides a robust framework for all tree-related decisions and activity throughout the County Borough over the next decade.

Councillor Christina Leyshon, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Corporate Services, said: “A Tree Strategy is necessary to ensure that we value, promote and protect the significant extent our existing woodlands across Rhondda Cynon Taf, approximately one-third of the County Borough.

“We recognise the importance of our semi-natural woodland habitats and especially our ancient woodlands. It is also important that a strategy is in place that recognises the importance of protecting semi-natural habitats and undisturbed soils from inappropriate tree planting.

“As a Council we are committed to investing in our green spaces and to delivering natural carbon storage solutions such as those provided by trees, peat bogs, marshy grassland and other natural habitats across the County Borough to enhance air quality and reduce the impact of greenhouse gasses.”

Looking after the trees, hedges and woodlands in Rhondda Cynon Taf is essential for the future health of nature and of people. Trees can improve the environmental quality of our urban areas, delivering physical, social and economic benefits as well as mitigating climate change, improving storm water management, air quality, biodiversity and visual amenity. 

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council established a Climate Change Cabinet Steering Group in 2019 to address the climate emergency and subsequently the nature emergency, declared by Welsh Government. 

The County Borough is one of the very few heavily wooded areas in the UK and is probably the only Local Authority area with such a large population of both people and trees. 

Rhondda Cynon Taf is made up of around one-third woodland and one-third urban, with a population of around 241,873 people. Trees, hedgerows, and woodlands are an integral part of local nature, supporting a wide range of insects, animals, birds and plant life. 

Climate change impacts on how trees, woodlands and wildlife react to it and the levels of management required. The value of trees to the Council and the residents of Rhondda Cynon Taf is significant, from the well-established aesthetic and landscape benefits to local air quality, water cycling and shade.

Other habitats are also important and conserving these also has benefits for residents, climate and nature. A Tree Strategy will provide a unified direction for all Council services in respect of tree activity, the largest of its kind for decades, and provide a framework to consider the organisational and resource requirements needed to address the current Climate challenges. 

Posted on 23/06/2022
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