Harvesting contract provides further boost to timber industry
In the latest boost for the Welsh timber industry, Natural Resources Wales has secured a five year contract to supply one of the UK's largest timber harvesting companies.
The contract with Euroforest Ltd will be worth more than £2.5 million to Natural Resources Wales and an estimated £16 million to the Welsh economy.
The contract guarantees the supply of 50,000 tonnes of larch annually from Coed y Cymoedd Forest and will secure almost 60 full time jobs in the harvesting and haulage industries.
The timber will be supplied to a range of existing markets in Wales and the borders with the majority used locally.
The trees are being felled to help slow down the spread of a disease which has infected over six million larch trees in Wales.
Harvesting and developing new markets for the processing sector is essential for the industry as there will be more larch available over the next 10 years due to the large scale felling operation.
Since the disease, Phytophthora ramorum, was first identified in Wales in 2010, more than 6,000 hectares (14,500 acres) of woodland have become infected, which is roughly around six million trees.
More than two million larch trees on the Welsh Government woodland estate have so far been felled.
Euroforest's Deputy Managing Director Ashley Williams said:
"This contract not only secures jobs in the forestry industry but also provides a long term supply of timber to saw mills and processors, who in turn employ hundreds of people.
"More than £2 million has been invested in equipment to meet the contract both to overcome the challenge of accessing the larch plantations and minimising the damage to both forest and local roads.
"The awarding of this contract allows the local timber harvesting infrastructure to invest with confidence in the future and help tackle this disease affecting larch trees."
Hugh Jones, Head of Forest Operations, Natural Resources Wales said:
"This contract is an important step to tackle this disease in Wales and provide more security to the timber industry.
"The challenge for us and Euroforest is significant because of the difficult terrain in this area to enable us to harvest these trees quickly and safely.
"This contract will enable all parties, including staff, suppliers and timber customers, to proceed with confidence."