Last week people all over the world raised awareness of the importance of our woodlands and their ecosystems for the International Day of Forests. Its theme this year was "Forests and Energy", promoting sustainable wood energy. We are reminded that wood is the world’s most widely used source of renewable energy; it is vital resource for meeting the world’s renewable energy demand. Many people in Wales are now using wood as fuel to cook and to heat their houses. I wouldn't be without the wood burning stove I had installed fifteen years ago and which was a godsend one winter when the central heating broke down. Today, it seems everybody wants a wood burner, which has resulted in a massive increase in the demand for logs.
Farmers know better than anyone that we have a duty to use wood sustainably and look at how we protect and preserve our forests and green spaces. We should be very proud of the "Size of Wales" project, which aims to protect an area of rainforest twice the size of Wales, as part of a national response to climate change. The project attracted a lot of international attention at the COP 21 climate change conference in Paris last year. It is an example of what a practical difference small countries can make to the global campaign to mitigate climate change.
In the last voting session in the European Parliament, I voted in favour of a series of reports to revise legislation related to waste and packaging, under the banner of “the Circular Economy”. As I have mentioned previously in this column, I have long campaigned against the old unsustainable model of throwing waste into landfill or incineration. I know only too well the consequences of that, not only for the environment but the effect on peoples' health. The new laws will reduce food waste whilst also making sure products are repairable, re-usable and last longer.
The circular economy is a profitable opportunity for Wales, financially as well as ecologically. It is estimated that through adopting the principles of a circular
economy, plus through advances in technology, the EU could create a net benefit of 1.34GBP. That’s 2,200GBP for every EU household and a GDP increase of 11% by 2030. We must prioritise initiatives like the circular economy. We can't afford not to.