There is an urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nobody is going to dispute that, writes Bryn Francis.

The role played by soils and plants in sequestering carbon is therefore attracting significant attention, with a particular focus on the planting of trees.

Here in Wales, over the past century, the area of woodland increased threefold, from five per cent in 1919 to around 15 per cent in 2016, with the vast majority of the increase down to the planting of non-native conifers.

We know that about a quarter of all woodland in Wales is on farmland and our farmers want to play their part.

Yet despite the call for increased tree planting, they continue to face major obstacles, as well as a lack of supply chain opportunities to provide a return.

Going forward, there has to be a focus on removing barriers to tree planting for farmers before increasing targets.

We must also ensure that tenants and common land farmers are not unfairly excluded from tree planting initiatives due to the long-term nature of tree planting and landlord consent barriers within tenancy agreements.

However, well intentioned policies aimed at increasing woodland areas can have the opposite intended effect.

Indeed, large-scale planting by the Forestry Commission and private companies on land previously used for livestock production has devastated ecosystems and communities.

The next Welsh Government must ensure that tree planting targets and future agricultural support schemes are not directed at large scale monoculture tree plantations.

Any such policies should support Welsh agriculture, our rural communities, our culture and way of life, the rural economy, biodiversity, family farms and tenant farmers.

A number of recent policy proposals to increase tree-planting targets and divert agricultural funding towards forestry and woodland could further result in disastrous unintended consequences for Wales’ family farms and the rural economy as a whole.