WALES IS one of six European countries awarded EU funding for a project designed to make the most of woodland resources.

The £4m Robinwood Interreg 111c Regional Framework Operation initiative also involves Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland and Slovakia.

Its aim is to bring together woodland management skills and knowledge to make the most of woodland in preventing natural disasters.

It will also look at ways woodland management can protect the environment, provide new income, business and job opportunities.

The Welsh part of the three and a half year project, worth about €1m to the Principality, has been set up by Forestry Commission Wales.

Simon Hewitt, director of FC Wales, said sharing information and ideas could help ensure a dynamic future for the industry and provide diverse opportunities for wealth creation.

“Timber production and adding value to that timber within rural communities is of vital importance,” said Mr Hewitt.

“But energy from wood, protection of the environment and the increasing use of woodlands for recreation are already giving us new ways of providing rural areas with valuable new income.”

The Aberystwyth based Welsh team will be responsible for drafting Europe wide forestry development plans, regional production plans and highlighting production opportunities.

It will identify ways of developing wood fuel as a serious alternative to fossil fuels, and research how woodlands can help reduce flooding.