Forests Report: When can you talk about trees?

It’s now over a month since Defra launched this online mini-survey on issues arising from the Independent Panel on Forestry’s Final Report.  While we wait with bated breath for “more questions in the coming weeks and months” promised by Defra, and for news on the National Forestry Stakeholder Forum promised by the former Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, we haven’t been idle.  We’ve been talking to the Forestry Commission, which seems more proactive on gathering information to inform the government response. 

The government has broken its research into eight workstreams:

  • culture (community, health, education)
  • woodland creation
  • woodland management
  • resilience and tree health
  • the Public Forest Estate & governance
  • biodiversity
  • ecosystem services
  • forestry industries

The Trust’s headline response is that we want the government to accept the recommendations as a whole, and in our conversations we’ve supplied examples of initiatives already happening that show the recommendations are feasible, and suggested targets for those recommendations that had no timescale. We’re planning a series of blogs about these conversations over the next few weeks, including guest posts from Forestry Commission staff that are gathering this information. 

We’re hoping you’ll join in the debate, especially if you too are talking to Defra or the FC, so please feel free to use Woodland Matters to post your comments and share answers to any questions we pose.

As we’ve said before, the future of England’s forest’s woods and trees is still in question, and we must all remind government of the key role our woods and trees play in society, including a sustainable and vibrant economy. We’ll feed your comments back to the FC and Defra, and in the meantime, please do fill in the online mini-survey – currently this is the only way way to contact Defra directly.

You can read, share and comment on all blogs we post in this Forests Report series by following Woodland Matters, and through this link:

About Hilary Allison

Policy Director, Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Climate Change, England, Forests Report, Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS), Protection, Woodland creation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Forests Report: When can you talk about trees?

  1. Pingback: A late Christmas presents for England’s forests? | Woodland Matters

  2. Pingback: Defra survey – Part II | Woodland Matters

  3. Its hard to predict or be able to logically tell what it will be like in the future for countries that don’t have access to as many resources as the U.S. does when it comes to land, ecosystems, and so much variety of consumables. The main problem being that within the coming next few years, everything thats done on this planet will either be done for 1. The planet and to keep our ecosystems operable without some sort of toxic system growing or 2. Its all for money. Tree removals in towns by city councils, always for money, taking down trees to make way for new land development, all for housing and money real estate. Its disturbing.

    -Ken Nicely

  4. Pingback: Guest post: Keith Jones, Forestry Commission | Woodland Matters

  5. Pingback: Guest post: Dominic Driver, Forestry Commission | Woodland Matters

  6. Peter Pearson says:

    Conservation becomes an important issue when it is linked to economic benefit/necessity.Government has a golden opportunity to tackle two pressing issues at one go by directing resources to improving woodland usage.Tackle climate concerns by giving more detailed attention to the climatic benefits of woodland ecology and the management strategies needed to obtain best benefit whilst also encouraging increased use of renewable fuels and home grown woodland products .At the same time such action could do much to decrease unemployment in the rural economy.Meanwhile , we all benefit from the continuing preservation of our woods.
    Much could also be done to link existing small pockets of woodland to create wildlife corridors and DEFRA could take an active part in promoting this through contact with owners/managers.They could launch a nationwide scheme to achieve this in a proactive role.

    • Jacquie Cox says:

      Peter, you said, “Much could also be done to link existing small pockets of woodland …”

      This is something that is a pet peeve of mine. The trouble with this is that many developers, land owners and especially local government planning authorities just don’t get it. They see an area with a few chunks of woodland, often connected by wooded field boundaries or hedges, and they think it acceptable to remove the corridors connecting woodland wherever it interferes with development – as if leaving the woodland intact is some kind of justification. They simply do not understand the importance of green networks.

      Any scheme would have to start with educating planning officers and with strong planning policy that underscores the importance of green networks. Unfortunately the current offering, the National Planning Policy Framework, totally misses the point..

  7. Graham John Vine says:

    Besides aesthetic and ecological considerations, the biggest benefit ample tree cover gives us all is its power to soak up heavy rain, such as the UK has been experiencing of late. Now, when it’s fresh in the authorities’ minds, is the time to be banging on about trees’ contribution to flood defence. Surely, even those who can see no other benefit from trees can see the advantages of having homes and businesses free from floods. Get them on our side, too.

    • Peter Pearson says:

      Graham. You comment on the role of trees in prevention of flooding/soil erosion.In our part of Dorset there was a recent landslide that caused the blocking of a tunnel on a busy road and this is likely to remain closed for a considerable time.Much worse is the fact that the slide killed two people whose car was buried.A few years before this terrible tragedy the council felled the trees on the steep slopes above the tunnel.At that time many of us felt this could prove dangerous.Of course there is no proof of a connection but it leaves a big question.Could this be a dramatic illustration of the concern you express?

  8. R says:

    Well that Defra Survey is rubbish. Clearly written by someone who doesn’t use or care about the woods. What’s it supposed to show? There are no questions which enable you to say why woods are important to you and the country as a whole.

  9. Paul Daniel says:

    I think that the Government should be encouraged to see the benefits to them of listening to those of us that value our woodlands. For example, lots of people in the country are broke and are having a hard time of it right now. Enjoying the countryside is one of the few leisure activities that can cost nothing at all and has a massive potential ‘feel good’ restorative benefit; it helps keep me sane anyway (more or less). Rather like the Olympics, if the matter is handled well and people are encouraged to participate then the Government and people would both reap the rewards.

  10. Rod Leslie says:

    Hilary, I think what you’ve said is absolutely right. There’s a feeling that going on and on gathering more views is going to improve decision making. What I’m concerned about is do the people who think they are making the decisions actually get it ? Do they have any real feel for how people feel about their woods and forests ? Or how the different pieces of the jigsaw fit together into something big and positive ? I’m not sure – and going to ground with yet another new team struggling to get up to speed under a mountain of paper and conflicting views doesn’t feel quite right. The one encouraging aspect is that FC seem to be back in the game and I just hope their wise counsel is being taken seriously.

    I wonder whether there is more we can all do ? Here we have a policy area where we can improve wildlife, create more jobs and green the economy without more money (the big funding for woodland management is the renewable heat incentive, already there and funded).

    What if conservation, the forestry industry, the energy sector and the forest communities could all come together to both challenge and support the Government ? the Government say they want less government – can’t we help them ?

    Just like the sales debacle was a political watershed, surely this is an economic one ?

    Here we have the two alternatives the Government faces as stark as could be: on the one hand, the tinkering, obfuscating and probable attempts at cuts that waste more money than they save; on the other hand the potential to both grow the economy and capture wide public support at minimal cost.

  11. Don’t forget that people can also contact the DEFRA forestry team by using this email address:

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