It’s been an exciting time for our Public Affairs teams in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the months before the elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Trust had asked all the political parties to commit to both expanding woodland cover and enhancing the protection afforded to ancient woodland. Reassuringly our own aspirations on woodland creation and protection have been articulated by many of the political parties who stood candidates in the election on May 5. Some of the key highlights are:
Scottish Labour committed to supporting new tree planting, looking particularly at tackling the obstacles to increasing tree and woodland cover; the Scottish National Party pledged to expand the forest estate and consult on how best to protect ancient woodland; whilst the Scottish Liberal Democrats will engage stakeholders in order to agree an ambitious tree planting strategy.
Plaid Cymru aim to bring forward a new Forestry Act and promote the investment in new on-farm woodland; the Welsh Liberal Democrats will use existing programmes to increase tree cover and the Welsh Conservatives have pledged to prioritise funding for new forestry in areas where it reduces the risk of flooding.
The Democratic Unionist Party have committed to both enlarging woodland cover and the retention and restoration of native forests; Sinn Fein are committed to doubling woodland cover as are the Alliance Party who are also pledging to remove the bureaucracy that prevents the planting of trees whilst ensuring that the new Forestry Act passed in 2010 is deployed to adequately protect ancient and long-established woodland.
Lee Bruce, Government Affairs Officer.