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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 February, 2005, 07:09 GMT
'Robinwood' brings tree job hopes
A woodland (generic)
A survey has begun into what exists in the woodland
Wales is part of a six-nation European project aimed at promoting ways for rural communities to create jobs by making the most of their woodlands.

The three-year Robinwood project will pump 4m into research on the sustainable uses of trees and timber.

The project - which plays on the name of Robin Hood - includes Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland and Slovakia.

The work will also study how forestry can be used to prevent flooding as well as for "social objectives".

The European-funded regional assistance scheme is launched in Brussels on Tuesday and is worth 1m euros for the Aberystwyth-based Wales team.

Forestry Commission Wales is heading the project, which will examine how forests in at least three of the countries are looked after now, and how best methods can be used and developed across all six areas.

Forestry Commission Wales Director Simon Hewitt said: "Forestry has an important role to play in the future of rural Europe.

"Sharing information, best practice and new ideas across six member states can only help ensure a dynamic future for an industry which can provide so many diverse opportunities for job and wealth creation.

"Timber production, and adding value to that timber within rural communities is of vital importance.

Flooding research

"But energy from wood fuel, 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 business opportunities provided by promoting forests and timber is one of the key aims of Aberystwyth team.

Others will include developing wood fuel as a serious alternative to fossil fuels and well as further research on how woodlands can help reduce flooding.

Owen Thurgate, programme manager for Wales, said: "There is no doubt that in three years' time we shall have identified many new ways for forestry to play an even greater role in ensuring a viable, ongoing future for our rural communities."

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