A new report will form the basis for policy discussions on a whole range of issues related to our trees and woods over the coming months.
The State of the UK’s Forests, Woods and Trees report, led by the Woodland Trust, was launched this week to the media. The report is a snapshot of the UK’s trees and woods in 2011, the International Year of Forests. It draws on recent evidence, and concludes with some broad issues for politicians to consider.
The Woodland Trust could have done this alone, and ended up with messages reflecting only our objectives. Instead, we offered other forestry and woodland organisations a platform to give their perspective on specific issues affecting woodland trees alongside ours. The aim was not that everyone should reach consensus on everything, but that the report should give scope for a range of views, and draw out common ground we all share.
This fresh and innovative approach has its challenges and risks. It’s much harder to come out with the kind of clear, black and white messages that make a good media story. And people need to be able to tolerate the views of others, even if they don’t agree!
Compiling the report has been incredibly refreshing because everyone has contributed in just that spirit of collaboration. As a sector we too often find ourselves pitched against one another. Quite rightly, we each have our own objectives and our job is to push for our voice to be heard, for our priorities to be recognised, in a world of limited resources. This report demonstrates that these are not polarised views so much as differences of emphasis.
All of us have the future of the UK’s trees, woods and forests close to our hearts. All of us want to see a resource that is robust and resilient, able to deliver maximum benefits and withstand the challenges of the future.
It is no coincidence that two of the key themes that emerge in the report are the need to embrace diversity in form, function and use of our woods, and the need for joined-up thinking across policy areas. Both these themes apply to the sector itself. We need to embrace the diversity demonstrated in the wide range of organisations that contributed to this report, and those that did not, but at the same time continue to listen to one another, and remember that fundamentally we are on the same side – that of trees, woods and forests in the UK.
Thanks to the following who contributed to the State of the UK’s Forests, Woods and Trees report: Ancient Tree Forum; Bat Conservation Trust; Coed Cymru; Community Woodlands Association; Confor: promoting forestry and wood; Campaign for National Parks; Country Land and Business Association; Forest Policy Group; Forest Stewardship Council; Institute of Chartered Foresters; National Forest Company; Reforesting Scotland; Royal Forestry Society; Scottish Wildlife Trust; Small Woods Association ; Sylva Foundation; Trees and Design Action Group; UK Woodland Assurance Standard; The Wildlife Trusts.
Sian Atkinson, Conservation Communications & Evidence Adviser