– your invitation: Top Ten Questions for the Forestry Minister

Asking questions in the field (literally).

We were delighted with the response to our ‘Tell Owen’ campaign – yielding some 15, 000 responses in the run up to Christmas and helping to shape the Government response to the Forest’s Report itself. Whilst a lot has happened since the Forestry Policy Statement was published at the end of January – not least in the world of Defra itself with the horsemeat scandal – the Policy and its implementation is still very much on the agenda. The Forestry Minister, David Heath, spoke on the subject to the All Party Conservation Group recently. There was also a House of Lords debate which showed an encouraging interest in moving forward the woodland creation part of the policy and a great speech by the former Panel chair, the Bishop of Liverpool, linking the health of forests and the health of the nation.  

Well, now there’s an opportunity for you to have a say again. Next week the Woodland Trust is hosting a planting event with David Heath in his constituency, at the new wood at Alhampton. We’ve asked if he’d be willing to take questions from our supporters, so what we’d like are your suggestions.

What to ask the Forestry Minister? Perhaps you are interested in the next steps on tree diseases; how we can get moving on turning the new woodland creation target into reality, how ancient woodland can truly be better protected, or ensuring a strong voice for forestry in Government following the Triennial Review… all timely issues! You may have something else about woods and trees that you would love to hear the answer to.

Leave your suggestions in the comments section below, by Tuesday please. Ten will be selected and put to him by Sue Holden, our Chief Executive, and the Q and A will be filmed and posted here…

Looking forward to reading your questions!  

James Cooper, Head of Government Affairs


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
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303 Responses to – your invitation: Top Ten Questions for the Forestry Minister

  1. Kaye Brennan says:

    You asked the Minister – and he responded! We took 12 questions in the end and filmed the interview with David Heath and our Chief Executive, and shared it on the blog: https://wtcampaigns.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/forestry-minister-responds-to-your-questions/

  2. Pingback: Forestry Minister responds to your questions | Woodland Matters

  3. Kaye Brennan says:

    Thank you everyone for taking the time to leave your comments and suggestions! What an amazing response! It will be difficult to choose just a few from so many thoughtful, considered and knowledgeable questions but we will try to cover all the issues raised and get answers. Your support and strength of feeling for your forests and forestry really is inspiring. Thanks again everyone.

    Our event is this Friday, watch out after the Bank Holiday for James’ next post.

  4. Liz Farnworth says:

    There were proposals to get rid of the Forestry Commission and if this did go ahead by whom and how are our forests to be managed? It is imperative, in my view, that our forests and woodlands are managed properly, with steady replanting and replacement of trees to sustain what we have, and even expand it, so how is this going to be safeguarded and overseen?

  5. Patrick says:

    What will be the impact on the ancient and ornamental woods in the New Forest if there is increased commercial removal of trees in the New Forest?There is very little regeneration due to the grazing by ponies and cattle.

  6. Bernard Cutting says:

    Brian is in favour of wood burning stoves – we cannot grow enough food for ourselves – if we all switched to wood burning how would we be able to keep up with replacing the amount burned

  7. Kaye Brennan says:

    A question from Margaret to the Minister, posting on her behalf: “I would beg you to ask for some intervention on the prospect of areas of the National forest planting and its villages being devastated by the Northern phase of HS2.”

  8. Kaye Brennan says:

    Keith sent us this question, posting on his behalf for the Minister: “WHO’S MAKING MONEY ????????????????” [we must ask the ? ] sorry if it’s not PC.

  9. Kaye Brennan says:

    A question for the Minister from John which I am posting on his behalf: “What steps is the Minister taking to educate and involve his ministerial colleagues in seeking to control the International trade in plants and trees, which has reached such high level that many different forms of botanical diseases and pests are being transferred between ecosystems with devastating consequences both here and abroad. The recent years we have seen a dramatic rise in new diseases and pests.
    The problem is that because each ecosystem develops slowly over thousands of years, its constituent plants develop protection to their local pests and diseases, thus plants, transported between unrelated ecosystems, will appear healthy but still harbour infective organisms that can devastate unrelated ecosystems. Also such infective organisms may mutate in response to their new environment to present further threats.”

  10. Kaye Brennan says:

    Valerie has sent us this to post on her behalf: “Thankyou for this..I would like to know what the government intends to do to compensate for the destruction of 34 ancient woodlands (as well as SSSI’s, nature reserves etc) that will take place when HS2 goes ahead, and when those plans (if they exist) will be realised. “

  11. Kaye Brennan says:

    Nina has asked me to post this on her behalf: “The question I would like to propose to Mr David Heath is:-
    What will happen to all the natural wildlife in the forests if they are continually being destroyed? Are there any measures in place for this? Obviously the more natural forests and woodlands being destroyed force these animals out of their natural habitat, and then they are being destroyed themselves by man. An example of this is all the foxes scavenging for food in the towns and cities. This in turn creates a danger for mam if children are hurt, whereas if they were left in peace in their own surroundings, these unfortunate incidents wouldn’t occur. It is a vicious circle.
    Although I am now living in Sicily, my British roots are always strong and it is so sad to see beautiful trees and fauna swept away to build houses. These forests and woods are our natural heritage and worthy of being saved and preserved just as much as our stately homes and ancient castles are.They are a part of what we are today. Please do not obliterate them for ever as if they are of no use to anyone anymore.”

  12. Kaye Brennan says:

    Ruth has asked us to post this question: “One of the problems with having politicians in charge of the well-being and protection of our woodland, whether ancient or modern, is that by very nature of the job, a politician tends to be a temporary fixture in our landscape. Not so the trees, flora and fauna that currently depend on the government for vital protection. A tree can live for hundreds of years, and the wildlife that live in conjunction with trees depend on that longevity. How will the Forestry Minister ensure that the woods and forests are adequately protected today and for the future, for the sake of our environment, our islands, those of us who make up the concerned public and for those who are too young today to have a voice but who will be the tree-lovers of tomorrow?”

  13. Vivienne Chadwick says:

    There is increasing evidence that seeing green trees helps with mental health, including helping people get over illness faster and helping people work better. Trees are undeniably important for our wildlife and for carbon capture. We need to increase the number of trees in the country which are accessible to all – urban areas and countryside. This means keeping a national body such as the Forestry Commission, which can work to preserve the health of our trees, maintain public access to woodland, ensure that we have a correct mixture of trees of different ages, advise Local Authorities on how to care for trees in towns, work with insurance companies and mortgage companies who all to often ask for trees to be removed in urban areas, and work with charities, woodland owners and others who own and care for trees. One body is sufficient and would be appropriate for issuing licences because it would know enough to make correct decisions in the national interest.

  14. John Rhodes says:

    Now that there is at least 1 proven way to stop or slow the Ash Dieback Disease & other tree diseases what is the minister doing to save potentially diseased trees.

  15. Wendy Easter says:

    There are some excellent questions here and I’m with most of them but my worry is the huge move towards wood burning stoves. We have some lovely managed woodland in Worcestershire but many of my neighbours seem to think they have the right to collect wood from them. Many log piles that have been left for wildlife to inhabit have been destroyed by these people. Is anything going to be done to prevent this happening?

    • Brian says:

      The evidence for woods burning being carbon neutral is fairly flimsy and depends on
      active investment in reforestation. What is planted is not critical – hard woods have great calorie output per unit mass but are slow-growing, willow is fast-growing but has poor calorie output per unit mass. Nevertheless, many are moving to wood fuel, including me,
      and we really must make an effort to optimise the benefits of such a move. It is entirely possible to harvest wood and replenish stocks for future generations. It is entirely possible to do this with regard to wildlife – leaving stacks of logs for toads,and the like to shelter. What we can’t do is to make people understand that removing log piles is theft. Decent, otherwise honest people, seem to have lost the plot. There needs to be a major educational input at junior level. There is no point trying to alter behaviour in older people. Older people who have acquired anti-social habits are (sadly) most unlikely to change. If you have savings that are doing little for you should consider buying a small wood. It is something I am seriously considering – Google “woods4sale”. If you are saving for your own home, pension or whatever this won’t be an option at present but it might be when, like me, you retire.

      I totally agree with you but we need a major culture change before people behave responsibly. Wood has value and that value is increasing. Look at the people who are stealing railway sleepers etc. to sell to scrap yards. Such behaviour is always
      more evident in a recession. A bit depressing but most people are decent.

      Best wishes, Brian.

  16. Alistair Brook says:

    Will you ensure the following is put into Forestry Commission By Laws / A Royal Commission:-
    When part of a forestry area is felled, an integral part of the contract is the reinstatement of the public rights of way to a much better condition than before felling commences, and a % of the income derived from that contract be used to maintain and improve All public rights of way throughout the whole forested area, that the felled area is a part of. Hence this becoming a perpetual, sustainable revenue for maintaining rights of way, rather than relying on the increasingly sporadic County Council or National Parks funding?
    Alistair Brook

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      Good question.

      I can foresee problems with your proposed contractual requirement for maintaining and improving “All public rights of way throughout the whole forested area, that the felled area is a part of.” This might be too demanding and too broad in scope.

      A lot would depend on defining the extent of the relevant ‘forested area’. A scaled-down version of your proposal might have more chance of success. But creating a contractual obligation along the lines you’ve suggested sounds like an excellent idea to me.

  17. Richard P Davies says:


  18. Ernest Croley says:

    With the increase in threats to our woods from diseases that our new or to our country, or are familiar but have increased in virulence is it not time for a national programme of research aimed at preventing the destruction of our national forest.

  19. Diana Westerhoff says:

    If the Govnt finds that managing woods properly is going to cost more than they yield initially will they invest in our woods for the long-term?

  20. Anthony Bird says:

    I would like to be told just how many of our Ministers actually use our Ancient Forests, I realise they are busy people but do they use our Forests in their time off?

  21. Andy Saunders says:

    Please protect woodland in law so that future generations will have all the benefits that we and past generation have had. Also make sure that economic growth is not used as an excuse to destroy woodland as the UK has masses of unused land it is just greed and lack of imagination that want to destroy woodland for building.

  22. Paul Saleh says:

    The Woodland of England and the rest of the world is under great threat and the main reason for this is the rapidly increasing overpopulation. Even if we save a few woods here and there at the moment, what’s going to happen in the future when there are billions of more people to feed, cloth, house, supply energy to etc. The government is short-sighted and only care about ‘economic growth’ and financial issues. We must openly speak about overpopulation and change our behaviour on this Earth because without addressing the overpopulation problem all efforts to save our woodlands are but a drop of water on a hot stone!

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      Your image of a drop of water on a hot stone is a powerful one. I hope our situation is not quite so desperate. I still think efforts to keep our environment out of the hands of politicians and the worst of their private sector cronies are worth making.

      I think you’re right, though, to draw attention to the fact of over-population. It forms a huge part of the wider context in which so many of our other problems are set – including the problem of preserving the woodland heritage of the United Kingdom’s small and (in many places) very crowded landmass.

  23. Dr Ian Magrath says:

    With climate change effects augmented by last year’s extraordinary weather, much woodland must be wetter, if not waterlogged. Are there plans to modify planting with not just native species but species more tolerant of wet conditions where this is relevant, where increased tree cover might help with ‘drying out’ the soil? The effects might be quite transpirational.
    Ian Magrath

  24. Barry Nichol says:

    Speaking on a localised basis why is planning permission being granted to developers on greenfield sites which result in the almost total destruction of hectares of long establised woodland along with countless loss of habitats, this depite wildlife and fauna surveys being in existance and much public outcry. Surely all woodland is to be cherished and if it is to be removed then an eqivalent acreage must be planted well in advance of any planning application or tree removal being entertained. The government must understand that it is the ordinary people of this country who are the real losers here and they must ensure that no trees are lost unnecassarily especially at the hands of unscrupulous developers. In an around the Corby area our wildlife populations are being put under tremendous pressure by ill-advised councilors whose short term monetry gains are denying future generations their rightful natural inheritance.

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      I agree with you. Greenfield sites should be protected.

      If an exceptional case arises and an argument can be made for building on one of these sites, I think a local referendum should be held on whether or not the building-work should go ahead. This would take the decision out of the hands of local councillors, who might be too easily swayed by the blandishments of ‘property developers’. (Why do they call themselves this, by the way? I can understand how people build houses and office blocks, but how do they “develop” properties? Do they treat them like the film in pre-digital cameras?)

  25. Brian Waters says:

    Re: Ash die back. Why did it take so long to ban imports of Ash from affected parts parts of Europe and what measures are proposed to improve the Government’s response should there be future issues with other diseases and species of tree.

  26. Cathy Rowell says:

    It seems that SSSI status does not guarantee, or observably increase protection under planning law. What is the point of the classification if it is ignored?

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      If you’re right about this, you’ve asked a very important question. I’d be interested to know what David Heath’s and Owen Patterson’s responses would be.

  27. jill behrens says:

    What is the government doing to protect our ancient woodlands, forests and wildlife habitats?

    And when are they going to enforce stricture regulations to stop the intense building of more
    homes and roads over rich woodland and precious habitats that are greatly impacting on our flood plains?

  28. Peter and Rosemary Dodd says:

    Out of this impressive list 2 comments stand out: There must be proper legal protection for ancient woodland (political parties please get it into your next manifesto), and there must be a ban on importing saplings (grow our own)

  29. V Adams says:

    Our remaining woodlands are a very precious heritage and MUST be preserved (and extended) not least for the benefit of generations to come. Listen to the population of the UK for once – we love our countryside, we love our greenbelt areas, and we love our woodland.

  30. Arthur Blaney says:

    Like Rex Holmes (17/3/2013) I too am worried about the lack of protection to our green-belt areas. Our forefathers had the foresight to envisage an increase in population and the consequential increase in buildings and services and therefore drew up the green-belt system to protect the countryside. Acts and regulations were passed accordingly. Now that we have reached the situation envisaged by those forefathers this government is acting in the very way that was foreseen. Is it not dishonest of them to breach the regs. and flout the law? By committing such acts of dishonesty it truly shows how little this government cares for our countryside.

  31. Joseph James Marshall says:

    My concern is that politicians tell lies. All the trust has gone. I fear that Owen Patterson will go through all kinds of spurious meetings, consultations and listening exercises. Then the Government will try to do what it wants to do anyway, just as it was using every possible tactic to attempt privatising much of our NHS by clandestine means. My question for Owen Patterson is this, “Will you truly act as steward of our trees, woods and forests, or will you cave in to corporate demands?”

    I also want to remind Owen Patterson that words and assurances mean nothing unless they are matched by fully commensurate action.

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      I’m getting Owen Patterson and David Heath mixed up. Many politicians seem to be pretty well interchangeable, anyway. If the opportunity arises why not ask them both?

  32. Sylvia Gallagher says:

    Will the Government of the day accept that The Woodland Trust is the expert and use them as active member of any far reaching discussion/neetings on the survival of woods in the future.
    Who are the government to destroy our woodland inheritance and for what – economic survival when there are other areas other than the environment they can prune (excuse the pun) in order to save monies.

  33. Lillian Winter says:

    I agree with everything that has already been said, HS2 cutting through Ancient Woodland, stop importing trees which are carrying disease, grow our own!

  34. Jil Cove says:

    It is hard to decide which is the most important question to ask as having read all the contributions so far I agree with them all and would hope that most of them could be put to the minister, even if it means waiting a week or so for written replies – so maybe submit a written list of questions in advance of the meeting – talk about what you can in the time allowed and then expect written replies within a set time frame – so that is my suggestion

  35. Roger Crowther says:

    Will the Government positively and financially support the development of British woodland by independent organisations like the Woodland Trust?

  36. Margaret Redford says:

    Mr Heath I do hope that you have read and inwardly digested all of the comment posted by VOTERS.
    How can we trust the government with our future, if they have no regard for our past. This
    government appears to have a total disregard for the environment, conservation and the well being
    of the people, VOTERS. It considers a 20 minute saving on a journey (that most of us will not take)
    as essential, surely the next 20 years are much more important.
    It is not just protection for woodlands (although extremely important) that should be enshrined by
    law, but all of our natural habitats, wetlands, heaths etc. We have to protect the whole not just little
    parcels that suit the Governments planning ideas.

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      You’re right to remind the Minister that we’re voters. Politicians of all parties creep and crawl to us before elections and treat us with scorn immediately afterwards. Our votes are becoming less and less important. There are too many cosy jobs for politicians who fall from power. While they have their power, they exercise it for the benefit of those who can provide them with a subsequent golden safety net. Many political choices are being made on the basis of self-interest rather than the public interest. Too many politicians are at this game, Left, Right and Centre.

  37. Barbara Ward says:

    Would the minister think on a long term basis and decide the fate on our forests for the future of our country and our grandchildren who will be the inheriters of our short term planning now.
    There seems to be a lack of thought about what is needed for the long term affect of our countryside and forests, insects, birds, plants, animals people we all need the space to live , but not at the expense of wild and natural areas where we and all other species can live.

  38. Ray says:

    How can our Government take the high moral ground on the destruction of the worlds tropical and temperate forests if they are not willing to protect our UK woodlands.

  39. Jenny says:

    I am concerned that this government appears to be concerned solely about the economy & whilst I agree that this is a serious problem, there is no overall ‘green’ policy. It appears piecemeal at best & non-existent at worst. If the government plans included an overarching policy of first considering the impact on the environment, might some concerns not be alleviated? Surely the problem of climate change is becoming evident and whilst we discuss the economic problems we are handing to our children, we are not considering the environmental chaos we are engendering. Perhaps HS2 might be better routed; perhaps Bexhill could do without a by-pass; perhaps Brighton could keep a 150 year old elm tree – if no-one looks at an overall environmental policy, which should control every other decision, we continue to take it as read that the environment doesn’t matter. Might the minister not be asked how his department is actively working to promote our nation’s environmental health and how the proposed planning laws, destruction of ancient woodlands, changes to funding and all the other schemes plucked from thin air will work towards reducing the impact of climate change?

  40. Rex Holmes says:

    I live on the Middlesex Hertfordshire borders and are surrounded by green belt most of which is tree covered. Recently attempts have been made by developers to eat into the green belt-all have have been resisted unfortunately 1 application was successful on a trade for trade basis. The end result is that Harrow Council’s lease land being returned (an area about 50 acres) for open public access in exchange for 5 acres of Green belt woodland to be developed for high cost housing. This is an inequitable arrangement when areas of Green Belt are being returned to the public which were already green belt. This is a typical example of how the Planning Laws can be used, surreptitiously, to reduce prime green belt land.
    What is the minister doing to prevent further green belt being taken into developement?

  41. Brian FRANCIS says:

    What guarantees can the Minister give to reassure us that the government will not continue with plans to sell our woodlands off to the private sector? as there has been no benefit to the general public with sales of previous publicly owned assets.

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      He will need to be pushed hard to give such guarantees and pushed even harder to honour them. Privatization isn’t an economic policy any more: it’s a kind of fundamentalist religious mania.

    • Anita Dyson says:

      I endorse this question

  42. John Simpson says:

    I endorse all of the above!

  43. Tina Wright says:

    I would love to get to from Dorset to London quicker and i am sure most people would like to get to work and back quicket than they do so why should Bristol London be quicker and destroy ancient trees in the process. Its not just ancient trees either. It is also all the wildlife that relies on them.

  44. David Kingdon says:

    Does the Government recognise the importance of our treasured national woodlands in providing sport and leisure opportunities, such as orienteering, running/jogging; and cycling, for people of all ages?

  45. Does the current government understand that forests are our best protection against climate change? That they remove carbon, produce oxygen, and reduce the impact of flooding and drought?

  46. D Avenell says:

    Exactly how does this govement & the Forestry Commission see that forests are going to help the economy?? In what way?? I reiterate they are not yours to sell off or take from they are ours the British people.

  47. Auntie Doreen says:

    What plans does the government have to immediately encourage planting of deciduous species to replace timber lost to S.O.D. and Ash Die-back? We have waited a generation to see replacement of elms lost to D.E.D.

  48. Robert Hipgrave. says:

    I would also like to know what the next stage would be in tackling tree disease.Also instead of spending big amounts of money into a new high speed rail link, that money could be spent on preserving our forests and woodland and our countryside in general.

  49. ian elwick says:

    Our forests are an incredible natural and cultural resource. Now you know that the people of the UK tresure them can we go one step further and build their preservation into statute? That they should be protected from private ownership is not too much to achieve. It can be assisted by (ubder agreed conditions for preservation and diversity) allowing private leases on forests which are not under the Forestry Commission in order to help finance this initiative.

  50. Janet says:

    Many many valid points have been made above about woods being a heritage for future generations, being a place of peace for people to enjoy, being the home of many insects and birds..and once gone it is almost farcical to suggest re planting (as proposed by HS2 plans ) else where.Ancient woodland is just that..it is ancient,. Whilst I applaud planting new woods ,they will for many many years not be able to offer the benefits offered by ancient woods.
    This last year has seen major flooding problems and a water table still at saturation point, and so we may face more floods in 2013. Woods and hedgerows will naturally soak up rain ,yet hedges are still being grubbed out.

  51. Shelley says:

    David Heath is the Minister responsible for the implementation of the pilot badger culls to be carried out in West Somerset and Gloucs (with a back up in Dorset). Surely, ancient woodland and badgers have been inextricably linked over millenia. The woodlands in the pilot areas may well lose their badgers and a major characteristic thereby. How does Mr Heath “square this circle”?

  52. David Carey says:

    I understand that this government promised to ensure a (substantial) increase in broad-leaved woodland both by new planting and by protection of existing woods and forests – are these promises really still valid bearing in mind the relaxation of planning regulations, the destruction of ancient woodlands by HS2, and the reduction in funding of organisations such as Natural England which should have oversight over our natural heritage, and if these promises are still regarded as valid, how can the government now demonstrate that they can really ensure that the quality and biodiversity – as opposed to perhaps just the notional area – of our woodlands is both maintained and improved? Or are we looking at yet more broken promises and further environmental decline and loss under this government’s stewardship, and the replacement of ancient woodland by deteriorating and diseased existing woods, and low quality poorly planned plantations over-run by excessive numbers of deer, and other imported pests and diseases?

  53. In response to Gillian Dean’s comment, I’m writing to let you know about my petition which I launched in the New Year following advice from the CPRE and Soil Association, and wondered whether you’d be good enough to sign, support and pass on?

    Why is it possible for developers to build on our ‘Best and Most Versatile agricultural land (BMV)’ – because it’s land that will never feed another mouth again.

    The answer’s in my petition, which I hope you’ll sign — it’s called: Safeguard our Soils, Mr. Pickles!

    Please read more about it, sign here and pass on:

    Best wishes,
    Carole Shorney
    SE Essex Organic Gardeners

  54. Theresa says:

    The Uk biomass policy is completely and brazenly unsustainable, as it massively relies on imports. We need to match what we plan to use to what we can comfortably produce without impacting either our ability to grow food or our aims to maximise biodiversity. If the government wishes to rely so much on biomass instead of appropriately investing in reducing our energy demand and in other sustainable renewables, then what is being done to ensure that enough new woodlands are being planted in both rural and urban areas in the UK ? Where is the big increase in the number of tree nurseries specialising in varieties that are suitable for our changing climate ?

  55. Gillian Dean says:

    I despair at what is happening in my local area, with land earmarked for development of a new housing estate, covering the only green space in the area. Thank goodness the woods behind our house are owned by the Woodland Trust, as I am sure they would be felled and built upon. We need more protection for our countryside not a downgrading of planning regulations. When will this Government wake up and smell the flowers, before there are none left?

  56. kerry Hughes says:

    how is it possible to protect our woodland/nature reserves when the government can suddenly decide to bulid a train line through them whenever they want? Yes they can be replanted but it takes years for plants and trees to grow before all the insect etc. can move in. Protected means protected not OK until something which can make money and jobs comes along!

  57. Mark says:

    Simply: 1) move to a ban on imported trees; 2) educate all of those interested in woodlands to stop planting woods and foster natural regeneration projects: let’s be under no illusion that the increase in well-meaning planting schemes (from individuals, community schemes, the Woodland Trust, the National Forest etc) is directly linked to the increase in tree diseases. While planting native trees is clearly better than planting imports, it’s not generally necessary, and is never as good as natural regeneration. The government has much to answer for, but they aren’t the only ones.

  58. Geoff Naylor says:

    What supplementary measures will the government be proposing to make woodlands accessible to the public given that not all woodlands are accessible on foot over public rights-of-way?

  59. Christiane Davis says:

    The U.K being a relatively small island compared to the Continent, it is imperative to protect and encourage new and old forestation growth as much as possible so as to keep and bring as much ” a breath of fresh air” to all its inhabitants and in particular to cities with densely polluted air levels. Humans and forests, old and new, are interlocked. Forests are invaluable assets in keeping one Nation sane in body and mind;- its tranquillity, its space to roam freely, its green invigorating landscape throbbing with wild life, provide much calmness and beauty not just for the eye but inspiring the soul – hopefully reaching governing bodies – so needed in a restless world going adrift.

  60. Mrs. Julia A. Merrill says:

    Nothing is more important to a UK which is becoming more and more overcrowded than more and more healthy forests with healthy trees, spring flowers and wild flowers. How nice it would be to have a population something special like this and not just becoming couch potatoes.

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      Don’t mention couch potatoes! The Government will find a private contractor to sell them to, and they’ll end up in supermarket Shepherd’s Pies.

      I like your picture of healthy trees, spring flowers and wild flowers.

      Perhaps there should be a campaign to ‘Plant a Politician’. If they were all stuck upside down in flowerpots and drenched with water a couple of times a day, it might bring them to their senses.

  61. Ann Craig says:

    Instead of wasting vast amounts of money on foreign aid which does not work as the money never
    gets to the people who need it, how about spending some on reforesting our country. The HS2 is
    nothing more than a political stunt to capture votes hopefully by the time it is planned to start being constructed the cost will be prohibitive( look at the trams fiasco in Edinburgh).

  62. Dee Simpson says:

    May I echo what Lawrence Holloway writes. It is unforgivable that concerns regarding the desctruction of so many ancient woodlands are being totally ignored, just so someone can get to Birmingham a few minutes sooner. We already have the least forest and woodland cover of any country in Europe and cannot afford to lose more.

  63. Lawrence Holloway says:

    In view of the total and unforgivable destruction of a phenomenal number of ancient and irreplaceable woodlands on the planned routing of the proposed HS2, how can further ‘at risk’ woodlands be protected with any degree of confidence in the U.K.?

    • Alan Cooper says:

      Indeed, and when will the first major incident occur on HS2, causing major disruption due to too heavy reliance on a single major route and transport method? Governments have a habit of making bad decisions. Many small solutions are far more effective than one big one to keep life moving and to avoid massive vulnerabilities. Our biggest mistake is the overbearing London focus instead of more sensible population dispersal. Woodlands and their inhabitants will suffer from the mistake as an innocent party.

  64. Eric J.Friend says:

    Are you, Mr Heath, liasing closely with the transport ministers to minimise the effects of HS2 on the ancient forests in its proposed path ?

  65. Brenda Mackintosh says:

    I too want to know how the HS2 scheme can be justified? So much land and vital trees destroyed for so little in return. .

  66. Jonathan Greenhow says:

    What support is the minister proposing to develop forestry that promotes a mix of very long term native woodland and medium term woodland for commercial production of wood products such as building timber, fencing, and in particular the development of wood pellets for small busineses and domestic bio heating thus reducing imports and carbon footprints.

  67. PETER CUTHBERT says:

    I am concerned about the preservation of ancient woodland but also with future development. What schemes are in progress to promote new woodland on a small or large scale? Plenty of people have small areas which would be suitable and which they would develop given help.

  68. Pat Pearson says:

    Why is that when the “public” protest about policies that no notice is taken.It seems to me that you need to be rich for anyone to listen to worries. Trees are vital to the very air we breathe.They help clean the air, give us shade and shelter. help build our homes and much more.I personally feel they are far more important than the wretched windmills being foisted upon us in the most unsuitable places. Minister LISTEN to people’s concrens. Don’t just dismiss us as a loads of nutters

  69. Gill Douglas says:

    I’d like to ask him when he’ll examine his conscience and stop concentrating on the affluent ‘go-getters’ and purely money-saving or money-grabbing ideas and start taking notice of the rest of us. If we don’t stop plundering our planet soon, it will be extremely difficult to pull back from the brink.
    I agree with practically all other comments so far.

  70. D.Small says:

    Who will appoint the members of the new body to manage Public Forest Estate and who will define their role and responsibilities? Will that body have enough ‘bite’ and power to ensure proper maintenance and future development of woodland?

  71. Alan Ferris says:

    I would like to see a requirement for significant (i.e. not less than 200m?) buffer zones around any existing ancient woodland. Together with an absolute ban on any industrial or housing development within the buffer zone. Ideally the plan should be to promote expansion of the woodland, but sensitive farming of the land would be encouraged as an alternative.

  72. Anne Holden says:

    What proposals are there for the proper management of our forests for timber in the future?

    • Joyce Kennedy says:

      My question is the same as Graham Wiles and Keith Banks, concerned about the desease from inported trees what also do they intend about thi.

  73. Mike Hollebone. says:

    Trees are the life blood for our very existance, The Clean up the air and create oxegen for as to breath! With the continual increase in world population there wont be enough air to breath shortly.
    So it is about time Governments around the World wake up to this and start saving Trees rather than cut them down. What is this goverments policy on this?

    Secondly Has anybody sat down and thought about alternatives to the HS2 Scheme?
    I think The whole idea is ludicrus. To Contemplate destroying virgin land in order to save 20 minuites time from London to Manchester in totally out of date technology defies belief! then to say it will create loads of jobs!? Well it might in the short term but what happens when the job is finnished? all those people will be unemployed again!
    Has The government thought about A Monorail System similar to the one in Japan? We have the expertise here in the Uk with the Taylor Woodrow Magnalev system! This would mean no envirenmental loss as the new route could be run over the top of existing roads and railways, would be much cheaper because there would be no need to compensate people for the use of private land,
    It is clean Quiet and much faster than railways and would bring some much needed status to the Country Would the government concider looking into this before going ahead with the proposed
    Out of date an unpopular HS2 scheme?

    • Des Gould says:

      I think that using this opportunity to question the minister on issues pertaining to HS2, which isn’t Patterson’s responsibility is a waste! Not that I agree with HS2, its just the wrong forum.

  74. We believe this so called goverment is not interested in maintaining our beautiful planet, its all about greed, aircraft pollute our sky, they want to destroy our forests which give us our BREATH,
    What next??? Tax on breathing? planting trees is great! but, it will not replace what has taken hundreds of years ……………

  75. This is a specific question. It seems to me that local government authorities do not provide enough long-term care for urban trees. You see new housing or commercial developments where saplings are planted complete with wooden supporting post and rubber or plastic strap. You then see the same sapling a few years later and the strap is biting into the bark, meaning the that tree might not survive into old age. Also I personally think that we are too good at cutting trees down and not good enough at planting another two or three trees for the one that as been destroyed. More money should be spent on planting and establishing woodland cover throughout the UK.

    • Nikki Graham says:

      This is a very good point. In my opinion, the so-called gardeners employed to look after trees and shrubs, etc., in urbanised areas have no real idea what they are doing and do not care. This is probably again due to a lack of money, as they have to do their work in a hurry and so fell and slash with little concern for the consequences, especially on the wildlife in the area.

  76. Mike Bradley says:

    How does Owen Patterson square his support for woodlands with the Governments determination to destroy 39 ancient woodlands for HS2?

  77. peter mullen says:

    All trees need to be considered as our lungs of the Planet. We complain about the FOREST being cut down in other Countries, yet even T.P.O.s do not protect our trees. How is the Government going to protect the trees in this Country.

  78. Jane Moore says:

    I’d particularly like to focus on two things:

    First, HSC and the destruction of habitat. Even if there are plans for replanting (good – and we need to understand what they are), new planting can never replace the ancient and long-established woodland.

    Second, a wider question picking up on the government’s avowed aim to be the greenest government ever. I think Mr Heath should be challenged on this. True, most government’s have been pretty weak on environmental matters, so perhaps ‘greenest ever’ is not setting the bar that high. But judging just on its actions, the government is doing the opposite of what it pledged.

    The policy on forestry is one example. A few others are: its procrastination in designating any marine protection zones; a planning policy where the default option favours development; relaxing rules for home extensions; culling badger with no regard to the available scientific evidence; the threat we have in Kent of expansion to various airports, eg Lydd and north Kent, both near valuable wildlife areas. (I don’t mention these in order to start a debate about them here, which would take the focus away from woodlands, but as examples.)

    Finally – not a question so much a statement – I am passionate about our woodlands and countryside generally, which is increasingly under threat – unless it is protected and properly managed, we will lost it and my life will be the poorer. I hope you can get the strength of members’ feelings across to Mr Heath.

  79. Des Gould says:

    Trees, and now Bees…We are in danger of loosing our Ash trees, and our Bees, and this minister acts after the event. What is he doing that actually has a positive effect on our environmental heritage?

  80. Colin Dann says:

    In times of recession the environment always seems to be put last among the government’s concerns. Everlasting calls for growth push it to the sidelines where it’s all but forgotten until the economy improves.I’d like to know what assurances the minister can give that he is fighting his corner to prevent this happening this time and what is being done actively right now for forests, wildlife and the landscape to carry out their promise to be the greenest government.

  81. Earl Spencer says:

    Ancient forest is not a dead thing but a dynamic environment which can expand as well as contract. So why is it not possible to use this to everyone’s advantage. For every hectare given over to development then at the woodlands edge a new one and a half hectare woodland must be created and grafted onto the existing woodland. What is ancient today was modern once. We have changed our landscape over millennia not always to the betterment of that environment. This could be a way to let it expand progressively in a tied up fashion.

  82. Graham Wiles says:

    Simple question: How does the government intend to preserve and extend our existing broadleaf woodland and protect them from disease?

  83. David Fitch says:

    My Question is about access and public education. What is the government doing to ensure that our children have good access to woodlands and other countryside spaces as part of their education? The future of our forests and countryside depends on their understanding of it as a necessary part of their world – and that will only come through regular interaction with woodlands etc It is becoming much more difficult for schools to arrange for children to have active outdoor opportunities – especially without their accompanying technology! Are education departments, both central and local, on-board for developing a greater love for the countryside?

  84. David Fitch says:

    First suggestion is please could you put this comment box at the top of the long list of other people’s comments rather than way down at the bottom?

  85. Lawrence Weston says:

    Apparently our current target for woodland creation at 15% is now the same as it was in 1911 – prior to the establishment of the forest commission and a nationwide scale programme of afforestation. If we are serious about combating climate, promoting use of green energy and increasing carbon sequestration at the same time as supporting our timber industry and woodland biodiversity we need major investment in our forestry industry in terms of support for large scale afforestation projects, training and financial investment in forest management and forest products industry. While the EWGS supports management of woodlands, often a lack of knowledge at how to generate income coupled with the fragmented nature of many woodlands mean they remain effectively abandoned often to the detriment of biodiversity. A step change is needed in our understanding of the role forestry (in the widest definition) can play to promote green energy, increasing resilience against climate change, pests and diseases, provide rural income and jobs at the same time as protecting and enhancing biodiversity and providing recreation. My question is while the government seem to support woodland creation on a large scale where do they expect land to come from? Often demands for development, species conservation and archaeological restoration have actually led to large scale deforestation projects (note the heathland restoration projects in Dorset leading to large areas of clear fell) – we need to view management of the countryside on a landscape level and encourage much larger planting schemes of multi purpose forest designed to deliver a variety of ecosystem services including primary production. While farmers are being targeted through the grant schemes this is never going to achieve the targets for woodland creation that have been proposed even with increased grant levels. Should we be thinking of the compulsory purchase of land for woodland creation?

    • Clive Coles says:

      Well said ~ We need a step change in Government commitment to extend tree cover. Deforestation to restore an open landscape of a past generation , much favoured by Natural England ( funding through HLS grants) and certain Conservation Trusts, runs counter to the aspiration to extend tree cover.. Much as I hate the thought of compulsory purchase of private land this may be the only way we can acquire the land we need.
      I also agree with the post of Earl Spencer. Infrastructure project expansion and other developments disturb the landscape. You cannot instal a new gas pipeline, bury an underground cable or build a new road without digging a linear trench. These excavations will cut through existing woods. I believe, as part of the planning process developers should be obliged to create replacement woodlands. I support the idea that these new plantings should be grafted on to existing woodlands.
      The Forestry Panel liked to talk about “the right tree in the right place”. This always concerned me as it appeared to legitimise deforestation of one area matched by the planting of trees elsewhere. Local people value their local woodlands. People who live for example in East Anglia and Dorset will not be happy to see woodland destroyed and replaced by new planting in Leicestershire. We should I believe extend our local woodlands to retain and properly maintain the landscape we enjoy. Perhaps we should press the Mistster to see where he stands on this question.

  86. karen heward says:

    my question would very similar to to Keith barber, but I would like to add a suggestion that we get children,the future generation, involved in tree planting and maintaining. Then hopefully our forests and woodlands won’t be so threatened as they will have learnt how important they are ,and have pride in what they have acheived.

  87. Colin Bowler says:

    My question for the Minister is: The Prime Minister boasted that this was going to be the greenest Government ever. So how about taking steps to preserve our forests for the nation rather than helping their transfer into private ownership and a regression to Victorian “values” of the rich keeping the “poor” in their place and off their land?

  88. Peter Skuse says:

    Will this Government, and future Governments, ensure that all our woodlands and forests will be fully protected against any form of development?

  89. Malcolm Jones Thornton Dale Pickering North Yorkshire says:

    Is the minister aware that only 70% of farmed land in England is under conservation stewardship engaged in creation of wildlife corridors which will naturally include the extensive perimeters of woodlands which provide feedstock for wildlife which has had its habitat destroyed by pesticide use , and if he is not aware will he engage with Defra in determining who the remaining percentage of landowners are and why they , who will also have extensive woodlands in their control , are not engaged with Defra in the conservation movement .

  90. Keith Barber says:

    My question for the Minister is: Forestry management and tree husbandry generally has traditionally been a rather piecemeal process in the UK. How does the Minister propose to ensure a vibrant and expanding Forestry sector which is well managed so as to provide a real economic resource, havens for wildlife and leisure time accessibility for everyone?

  91. Lynda Dowding says:

    Is protection of our woodlands enshrined in law? If not, how can such protection be achieved in the near future?

  92. Erica Allen says:

    Instead of transferring forests and woodlands (modern or ancient) in England from Crown property to private individual/company property, would the British Government consider transferring all forests and woodlands of England into public ownership via shares or something similar? That way we keep our precious forests/woodland and we, the public, do not lose the amenities afforded to us. The trees benefit, wildlife benefits, the English people benefit and so does the government, who would benefit from the cash generated by such a scheme.

    • peter roantree says:

      Very good.hope it comes ,one day.

      • Malcolm Jones Thornton Dale Pickering North Yorkshire says:

        It was determined that the Monarch had no right to receive moneys from the lease of Crown lands because it should go to the People . The Crown is the People as determined centuries ago viz execution of a Monarch for treason . Therefor the Crown land woodlands already belong to the People and should be financed by the Public Treasury if the Government of the day can be forced to do it . But in the absence of government intervention on behalf of the People perhaps you are right and shares should be issued BUT with a restriction to private individuals and at a fixed level of ownership and no restriction on the age of shareholders so that young people can get directly involved . There may be a case for wildlife conservation organistions to hold shares comensurate with membership numbers as part of membership subscription .

  93. My husband and I, and many friends with whom we work to protect our trees (despite the recent so-called Tree Strategy) in our borough of London, feel that, when it comes to the crunch (felling) there is no protection for trees, we’ve lost loads to development. Then there’s a so-called TPO which appears not to be worth the paper it’s written on, there’s the loss of tree cover and biodiversity for the wretched on coming Major Infrastructure Projects, road schemes, e.g. the Bexhill/Hastings Link Road, and others, the HS2. In the past we’ve had the Twyford Down, Newbury Bypass, Silbury Hill, the list will unfortunately become endless. So it’s MIPs=£millions,
    Trees = 0, every time. When will they ever learn?

    Sad, sad, sad,
    Stephanie and Jim Lodge

  94. Clive Coles says:

    I am afraid some of these commertators are failing to make the connection between trees and timber. When trees are felled we produce timber ~ It’s timber production that generates income: Planting and managing woodland in perpetuity however involves costs. If you cannot cover the costs where is the money coming from ?
    The Government is trying to distance itself from managing and funding the public forest estate. They expect our forests and woodlands to become self financing. Woodland grants look likely to be cut back.
    So… if if those who want to advocate the creation of broadleaf woodland that over time will develop into an ancient woodland, how are they going to sustain that woodland with reduced income ? Will the volunteers be willing to put their hands in their pockets over a lifetime as well as providing the labour and expertise.
    The Forestry Panel argued strongly for an increase in tree cover; the Government in their response cut the target back to 15%. Even this is very ambitious.
    Like them or not, the coniferation plantation forests as managed by the Forestry Commission, generates income from timber sales which help sustain the public amenity forests. The Forestry Commission manages 20% of our woodland but provides 80% of the GB grown timber.
    We need therefore a balance within the aspiration to extend our tree cover. Variety in planting will provide bio-diversity. There is a place for both broadleaf and coniferous species.
    So… please don’t ask the Minister to obliterate the conifer and just plant native broadleaf species. The finances just will not stack up. If we are to sustain and extend our forests and woodlands we need to continue to harvest timber. You cannot create a picture postcard woodland landscape that cannot be harvested.

    • peter roantree says:

      Yes we do need both,conifer and broadleaf,

      • Jim Clark says:

        As a field naturalist who has had a career in conservation (not working for any forestry organisation but sometimes liaising with them) and am still active in wildlife recording and surveying since retirement. I can vouch for the value of conifer plantations for a whole range of species from lichens to mammals. A number of red and amber listed species can be found in them sometimes at quite high density, the hated conifer plantation is far far better for birds, plants, insects, animals, reptiles and amphibians than hectares and hectares of arable or pasture. I will not write an extensive list of what I’ve recorded in plantations. There is plenty of litarature backing this up already.

        • Clive Coles says:

          Yes ~ thank’s Jim for that observation. There is a danger amongst Woodland supporters to only see the danger to our landscape and environment in regard to the threat to our Ancient Woodlands. That’s a real danger and I support those calls that seek better protection for Ancient woodlands.
          But the conifererous plantations, as you say. also support a diverse species of wildlife and flora, some of which are unique to that eco-system. Even the nightjar, which conservationists claim need heathland habitat, actually thrive in areas of recently planted conifer. With cyclical restocking following clear felling such habitats are always available within such a managed plantation forest.
          Most coniferous forests, in England at least, will never achieve the status of being an
          ancient forest as the trees are primarily grown for timber. They however help to retain a bio-diverse patchwork of different habitats across the landscape. Good for the environment, a source of revenue, and a great recreational/leisure amenity.
          Let’s together fight to extend both coniferous and broadleaf woodland cover and strive to meet the 15% woodland creation target

  95. Does the minister have any plans for culling muntjac deer, given the damage they cause to young trees and to bluebells, an endangered species.

  96. Sandra Wall says:

    It seems clear that the terrible loss of ash trees might have been avoided if the government had banned all imports of ash trees as soon as the spread in Europe became known. Why did they duck the issue? How can we ensure that this will not happen again?

  97. David Aspinwall says:

    Ban the plan. Let the oak soak and stash the ash.

  98. Caspar says:

    Can you give a binding assurance that under your aegis none of this country’s heritage of woodland will be flogged off or bargained away?

  99. elaine hancock says:

    These people who live in cities ,with noise and stress do not understand how we need the countryside to breathe.The HS2 will not only bankrupt the country it will take away the reason to live.We need to keep Britain the way it is with beautiful countryside ,ancient woodland,diverse wildlife.That is what people come from abroad to see.

  100. Mike Lovelace says:

    In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in desease in our woodlands. What action is our government taking to tackle this matter?

  101. Mike Tregent says:

    Dear Sue,
    How do you intend to promote the importance of ancient woodlands to our heritage and culture, such that new habitat creation is seen as an investment in the future fabric of our society?

  102. chris morley says:

    why dont we gather seeds in off native trees and plant em,i have been doing this for years it only takes each tree lover to plant 10 seeds locally to make a real difference,i have been burying 100s of seeds each year for ages in time my work will be truly amazing for future folk

  103. Alan Cooper says:

    We need more deciduous trees especially as the population has grown so much in recent years and transport is so polluting of the air. Trees, especially native deciduous ones, are one of the most effective means of fighting pollution and providing habitats which is essential to the wildlife we as Britons have been squeezing out, and also trees and lots of small woodlands in and around urban areas are essential for healthy recreation for adults, children, families and dog exercising. Prevention is better than cure, and if insufficient resources are invested in this vital requirement, we will in the future be faced with an increase of cost of the consequences through trying to deal with mental health issues through lack of the essential recreation, air quality and well being which a good balance of healthy trees and woodland provide.

  104. terry griffiths says:

    Many people particularly the elderly have little opportunity to visit the countryside so we must preserve and increase planting of urban trees.What can the minister do to ensure that councils refrain from felling large trees and either not replacing them or planting uninteresting small monoculture species in their place.

    • Ray Allott says:

      Place a preservation order on all trees in the country stating that they can only be felled if declared dangerous by several independent tree experts. Make it an offence to plant anything other than traditional British trees, oak, ash, elm, sycamore, willow, sweet chestnut, walnut, holly, hawthorn etc.

  105. Mike King says:

    Now that the Government is encouraging our large, coal fired power stations to commence burning “biomass” which is mostly wood chip imported in vast quantities from Europe, Australia, South Africa, the USA and Canada, isn’t there a danger of more pests and diseases being transmitted into our eco-systems and how do we intend to prevent the spread of these often microscopic pathogens?

  106. Tony Cassidy says:

    Cancel HS2. The damage that will becaused to our woodlands and countryside will be horriffic and permanant.

    • Alan Cooper says:

      Yes. Cancel HS2! My wife studied conservation and she gets mad when the HS2 mob claim they will move ancient woodlands…..she says HOW can you possibly MOVE an ancient woodland?!!

      • Ian Brown says:

        Quite right, Ancient Woodland cannot be transplanted (it would be a contradiction in terms). Manchester Airport thought that Ancient Woodland could be transplanted (or that’s what they said), when they wanted a second runway. Nobody fell for that but the runway was built.

  107. Garry Goddard says:

    Agree with most of other comments above.
    Why HS2 when our ancient woods are already so depleted?, this unecessary raillink should banned NOW! Why import ash saplings when they grow so easily in this country?
    Stop building roads, railways and houses on our precious woodlands

  108. David Wardrop says:

    1. Can you tell us more about deadwood and if it is cost effective?
    2. What can be done about invasive plants such as Rhododendron ponticum?

  109. Euan McPhee says:

    There needs to be a strategy for woodland management which reflects the following priorities:-
    1. All existing semi-natural woodland should be absulutely protected from adverse development and be managed for conservation of biodiversity and retained within public ownership wherever possible – it is, after all our heritage.
    2. All woodlands with a significant element of native species composition need to be maintained as living woodlands, ie. will continue to have a strong conservation, recfreation and commercial role, and all management, whether the forests are in public or private ownership, is conducted with these three objectives held in equal regard
    3. All opportunities for the creation of new woodlands need to be pursued, from small to large scale and in urban, suburban and rural settings. And every opportunity for engaging the general public in establishing and maintaining such woodlands should be central to any such development plans.
    4. The role of woodlands in enhancing health and wellbeing is well known. There should be a longterm policy of providing woodland access opportunities for all, by establishing accessible woodlands within a minimum distance of a significant majority of people within the UK.

  110. Robert Richards says:

    In addition to the £2.4M grant from the BBSRC to University of Exeter is there a long term commitment to maintain funding into Ash dieback research?

  111. Roger Parker says:

    This island is already overcrowded. We have a more or less unrestricted policy on acceptance of immigrants. The pressure of demand for more land to build houses on must ultimately reduce the area still devoted to woodland and agriculture. Greed, and the profit motive, leads developers to continue to seek further land to build on. The agricultural productivity of this country is already unable to feed its’ growing population, and we are liable to be unable to pay for imported foodstuff for much longer. We don’t build warships of Oak any more, so we don’t need to fell trees for “National defense”. Leave the woodlands alone!

  112. Jim Clark says:

    I’m sorry to see comments from BNP or EDL above. As our woodlands become more threatened so they require more robust protection, coupled with this there should a drive for more woodland with private landowners, conservation organisations and government working together. However it is essential that valuable sites such as wetlands, heath and natural grassland are protected as well, tree. The planting of new woodland should not be at the expense of other valuable habitats which was all too common in the past.

  113. richard markjham says:

    i would like to know what is the idea of power stations running on pelleted wood–we dont have enough wood for even one power station, so that would mean no woodland left in england and thousands of tons imported to feed the beast-, and i believe the carbon footprint of these stations is terrible–as normal theres no thought apart from someone making loads of cash at our expense

  114. Terry Quinn says:

    I would like to ask any government, not just this profit obsessed coalition. What in their opinion is the right way to go in regards to short term economic growth, and make no mistake, projects like HS2, will be short term, because in the future it will become too slow for our superficial needs.Or the future of all of our native plants and animals, the long term pollination benefits and the pleasure to human beings, which according to a DEFRA report brings in £4 billion pounds per annum to bolster the economy? Think very carefully before you answer this question, the future of mankind depends on your answer, for we depend on nature to survive!

    • Nikki Graham says:

      I think this is a major problem. We have forgotten that we need nature to survive, and mistakenly believe that we can control it and expect it to thrive in the few places we leave it intact.

    • Derek West says:

      I would ask the minister why the protection for ancient woodland is so weak,as we have lost so much what is left should be off limits to develpment and that includes HS2.

  115. andrew blakey says:

    why can’t each english county have its own regional forest,planted by the regions own unemployed and paid for by regional contributions from the national lottery……?

    • Philip Jackson says:

      Very good point Andrew, worth thinking about.

      • Annie Walters says:

        Each county should have incinerators, rubbish collected from one or two large bins in the street, these would be the collected each evening and taken to be burnt, limited fumes and no large cost of infill sites. Germany and Mallorca have been doing this for years, mallorca’s rubbish supplies 25% of their electricity. And best of all, NO ROWS OF BINS outside of houses.
        I have written to all main party’s for many years on this subject, no reply. Come on Dave this would save the British people a fortune as would the Government, not to mention gain some extra needed votes.

  116. Philip Jackson says:

    I agree with Anna Evans, How can the government justify destroying our countryside etc by building on greenfield sites, forests included just to satisfy the growing population due mainly to immigration when there is nothing here to offer them except handouts,also it is a proven fact that we have enough empty propertys on brownfield sites to meet the demand of our own native people where the infastructure allready exists.

    • Sally M Thomson says:

      Bravo for voicing these sentiments!

    • peter roantree says:

      Agree ,immigration a big problem.

    • Annie Walters says:

      Well said, I know of a nursing home where majority of staff are Polish, their Government pay £700 to an employer to give them a job for one year in return for teaching them English and train as a carer, some have been here for 5 years and still can’t speak English. For some years Many from Bulgaria have been given a licence to work for 6 weeks then stop for 3 and then return. They find employment elsewhere for the 3 weeks, paying no tax and sending most of money directly back to country of Origen, many work 70 hours a week, at least they are not shy of work, they were teachers earning €1.50 an hour, here it’s £7 as a carer sharing a room with a stranger.
      They usually live in properties owned by Polish landlords who insist all rents are paid into their Polish Bank account. I wonder how many people on the dramatically increased social housing list are immigrants. Many other EU countries make ex pats live their for many years before being allowed to apply for accommodation.

  117. anne taylor says:

    I would like to ask how the Government is going to involve local people in their local woodland management so that they can sustainably benefit from woodland products – basic things like firewood, chippings, beanpoles, pea sticks, fencing, animal grazing, etc.

  118. Peter Kyte says:

    Is it not time that for every new build on greenfield sites, the developers should donate one quarter of that development to be a nature reserve, thereby going some way for environmental mitigation.

  119. Andrew J Neighbour says:

    Does the “taxman” still offer allowances for pine forests: and is there a programme in place to reduce and replace the nations’ unnatural imported conifer woodlands?

  120. We still need to ensure that the Government continues to fund and monitor the health and use that is made of all or recreational woodlands including those looked after by the many local authorities.

  121. clare jordan says:

    i want our forests protected forever, i dont want to have to continuously campaign because government ministers think that they can find some way of selling off our forests whether that be en masse or a bit at a time. Neither will do, I NEVER want to see our forests sold off. These forests are there for the natural world and for the people and will remain so forever. I will never give up on this either, so no matter what kind of bill is going to be weedled through parliament that amounts to a giving away government responsibility that amounts to a sell off, or franchise, or loan I will always fight it. I would also like provision made for forests that are run by charities such as the rspb, so that our wildlife is not lost. In short, I want our trees, that support so much life, NEVER EVER to be sold off.

    I hope i have made myself clear.

  122. paul whiteley says:

    I would like to know what our government will do to replant all our infected trees.Can we not grow our own seedlings and bypass all these infected trees from abroad.Do we plant many oaks these days as they are one of the most usuable timbers in the furniture world.we should be planting much more forests and woodland.This would also have a positive impact on our environment,by taking out all our poisens from the atmosphere.We should be able to grow enough trees to turn our timber into paper and keep replanting making sure we keep our enviroment clean for the next generations.

  123. Trish Clawson says:

    In the past woodlands were kept healthy, the life of trees prolonged and wood was available for the needs of the community by careful management such as coppicing and pollarding. Wood was available for fencing and the making of hurdles for eco friendly barriers for the protection of properties against invading animals. Charcoal (think BBQ’s) was made from such wood. The floors of the woods were kept clear of barambles allowing the growth of other woodland plants. Altogether a more healthy woodland with fewer diseased trees. Wouldn’t it be sensible to manage our woodlands again as they were in the past? It seems to me we are not only mismanaging the woodlands, but depriving ourselves of sustainable, eco-friendly resources Is this being considered? If not, why not

  124. Pat Hardy says:

    In our village, in the county of Suffolk, the local people have joined together to plant trees, if we can then why is the government not protecting out countryside. We get the more homes needed quote, but first make sure that the houses already built are occupied, and not by the horrific charge for a spare room business. Surely there are spare rooms in Downing Street which is a state owned house!!

  125. anonymous says:

    More use a vacant spaces, more pressure on developers if they are allowed to develop to use the inclusion of indigenous plants on landscaping. And for incentives for existing areas to make greater effort for wild planting, all the local spaces managed by authorities which are nothing more than bland patches of grass. For government and council to not be so focused on monetizing everything, can a business or an economy expand ad-infinitum with finite resource. And after assessing if a community really needs additional housing,retail or commerce then lets come up with creative solutions to use all the empty pockets of wasteland, before destroying the countryside around an urban area.

    Where I live already the traffic is appalling, grid lock, yet the council have decide to put another few hundred houses in the centre, and the local supermarket wants to expand by 50%. When there are no benefit to residents only those who profiteer from such ventures.

    I also wholly agree this country is now full especially in the south east, not xenophobia but basic mathematics, we are full. We are seeing the land we love destroyed, and an increase in pressure on every aspect of our lives, more traffic, increase in rent, increase in property prices, longer waiting lists, bigger school classes, more pressure on our finite natural resources, every year I see countryside near me taken away. Our mild manners and hospitality as a nation have been thoroughly abused by shear numbers.

    Sadly we are not allowed to express such views in public, instead we must stand aside and watch our land destroyed by over population, governments and big business. We are however expected to work and pay for it all through taxation.

    I would rather be poor and surrounded by beauty than rich and surrounded by concrete.

    • peter roantree says:

      very good.i agree.

    • sonya lippold says:

      to Anon. I also agree, but you can express your views on websites (as you have)

    • Nikki Graham says:

      I agree as well. There is far too much development in the south. Where I live, there are plans for 3,000 more houses because of so-called demand, yet many people in the area cannot sell their houses, even after months on the market. New-build houses, however, fly off the shelves like hot cakes. The only demand I can see is for pristine, spanking-new, on-trend homes, consumerism gone too far.

  126. Mark SHEARD says:

    Would the Minister support a reduction on tax benefits for soft wood planting with a greatly enhanced tax benefit for hard wood planting to encourage woodland diversity.

  127. Kath McDermott says:

    How can this government justify spending billions on HS2 a project which may well be obsolete before it is completed and will damge or destroy 34 ancient woodlands for the putative benefit of reducing jorney times by 30 mins for the few who can afford the fares. Also the billions spent on child allowance encouraging large families which will necessitate the building of so much new housing which will also mean further damage to our countryside and woodlands in the future. I can see the day when England will be totally developed except for the National Parks and golf courses.

  128. Sue Lang says:

    What is the government current spending associated with tree desese and protecting our forests. Is this to be protected against cuts?

  129. Ian Brown says:

    There should be incentives to manage woodlands, in a traditional manner, as was done for centuries prior to about 1950. This would bring back bio-diversity to many long neglected woodlands.

  130. Ray Allott says:

    How many of our ancient woodlands are going to be destroyed by HS2?

  131. Karen Swan says:

    When all the ancient trees and woods and forests, and all of the wildlife that lives in them are gone forever, what explanation could there possibly be from us to our great grandchildren?

  132. Paul Paice says:

    Given that food security is increasingly becoming an issue; why don’t we plant more fruit and nut trees as part of our managed woodlands? They could provide an important source of nutrition, as well as helping to reduce food miles.

  133. J C Hutchinson says:

    what will the Government do to encourage the use of home-grown saplings thereby assisting the balance of payments and reducing the spread of diseases?

    what will the Government do to encourage the better management of woodland creating opportunities for employment in enterprises such as coppicing?

  134. Jan Mulrenan says:

    I want to see lasting protection for ancient woodland and increased planting of broadleaf woodland in suitable areas, following consultation with the Woodland Trust and the Council for the Protection of Rural England. If building is necessary let it be on brownfield sites.

  135. Brian Leitch says:

    Why not encourage schools provided with the seeds of Ash or Beech to develope their own woodlands, however small, however limited. A prize for the schools planting the most trees would be a great incentive and plant in childrens minds the importance of the tree.

  136. Wendy Bowman says:

    Why do we have to plant so many non-native species in our forests?
    Why are there so many pine that are nothing like a British woodland

  137. DH Green says:

    Forest-woods-copses-and the odd tree are the lungs of this country let’s all make this country breath again.

  138. Peter Goodwin says:

    I would like the Minister to tell us of his visions for the future of the forests in this country. Does he see vast areas of woodland destroyed to make way for construction work or does he see the return of the UK being a green and pleasant land with increases in the number and size of forests here.

  139. graham johnson says:

    Funny how trees are PROTECRED by Government & Councils until it suites them to just RIP them down justified by saying that we have plantrd a twig elseware.

  140. Ray Glasson says:

    Carers of trees and forests need to plan, think and act on a timescale measured in decades.
    Humans who enjoy trees and forests think on the same timescale for their children and grandchildren.
    What timescale for protective measures are you putting in place for trees and forests?

  141. Mike Dziubinski says:

    What plans do the government have to facilitate the inclusion of ecology and local biosphere awareness, to the national curriculum for British schools. Do these plans enable funding for hands on projects and cooperation from local councils?

  142. Jane Smith says:

    I thoroughly agree with other comments that we should not need to import trees when we have many seedlings produced in the UK. If we do HAVE to import saplings, surely the greatest care – root washing, quarantine, approved suppliers etc – should be taken to ensure that they do not bring in pests and diseases. I also agree that much greater care should be taken by planners to STOP destroying our precious natural resources.

    • Philip Jackson says:

      I am afraid when it comes to planning Jane the last thing on thier minds is the environment

  143. Veronica says:

    Veteran trees can be many hundreds of years old and provide valuable habitat for wildlife, but seem to have little protection. Please can we have strong laws to protect veteran trees as well as planting more trees and protecting woodland. Also the link between mental and physical health and wellbeing and access to nature and woodland is proven. Increase biodiversity, protect and increase our woodland and our open spaces and we will have a healthier and happier population.

  144. Brian Slater says:

    Brian Slater. My question.
    There seem to be a lot of administrative barriers in using Volunteers to help in the planting and managing of woodlands. How will the government overcome this and maximise the benefits this sector can provide?

    • Peter Wilding says:

      It’s a good idea to encourage the use of volunteers. However I am not sure what is meant here by “administrative barriers”. What are they? BTCV, the National Trust, and county Wildlife Trusts all use volunteers in woodland management, as – sometimes – the Woodland Trust does too. In over 30 years of volunteering I have not had much difficulty in finding opportunities to work in woodland management and on other conservation projects.

  145. David Johnston says:

    Why do we import Ash trees when there are so many in the UK ? My garden is full of seedlings which I uproot and dispose of.
    We must protect our existing Woodlands, create ‘corridors’ between woods and plant new woods.
    Vague statements from ministers are no use at all. Policies with realistic targets must be set.
    There are so many willing volunteers around. The government should provide the resources for us to use and maintain/ develop woodlands for future generations.

  146. Clive Coles says:

    Three interelated questions I would like the Minister to answer.:
    Why is it so important to split up the Forestry Commission and to go to the expense of creating new Public Bodies ?
    Surely the recommendations of the Forestry panel to create a new body that is more self sufficient and less “controlled” by Government could still be achieved without this fragmentation. The only reason being consistently offered is that the Forestry Commission cannot be both active in the market and the licencing authority. This assertion seems to come from private woodland owners who see the Commission as competitors.
    Isn’t the Government just giving in to this powerful lobby ?
    Can such fragmentation really be shown to be in the national interest ?

  147. When will you the Government accept that people know what is required to conserve, protect and expand woods and forests and just get on with it. This would save SO much time. We won’t be fobbed off.

  148. Simon murphy says:

    Given that increasing numbers of people live and work in urban areas, can more be done to increase the number of urban trees, especially in deprived areas?

  149. Roy Stephenson says:

    I’d like the minister to be asked about government plans for woodland management, to improve biodiversity & natural regeneration: what’s going to be done that’s new?

  150. Elisabeth Traverse says:

    Same question as Steve Foulger.

  151. Mr. A.E.Bailey says:

    I agree with all of the above comments – woodlands must be protected for our childrens’ future.

  152. Alan Ramage says:

    Disease detection, prevention and limitation require investment in qualified staff, laboratories and legislation that enables prompt and effective action umtrammelled by commercial considerations. Has the government, in consultation with bodies like The Woodland Trust and thw Wildlife Trusts, done all that is required to meet present and future threats?

  153. Angela Pooley says:

    In addition to protecting existing woodlands will you ensure that robust plans are instigated to manage and enhance woodlands. Vibrant woodlands are an essential part of the measures needed to deal with climate change and biodiversity.

  154. Sheila Blair says:

    Please ask the Minister to ensure that his Government tightens planning policy to protect woods & especially ancient woodland. I live in an area of Sussex where a number of small but valuable ancient woodlands have been bulldozed for yet more houses. This is our children’s heritage and once lost can never be recovered.

  155. Francesco says:

    Trees are good for you. They give you shade whewn is hot. Shelter when is raining, provvide shelter and nesting for those litle sweet birdies and give beauty to the countryside.

  156. Sue Featherstone says:

    Our native woodlands and forests provide fantastic ecosystems that help to protect thousands of species of flora and fauna. I would love the Government to support organisations such as the Woodland Trust to undertake even more extensive research into the benefits of protecting our woodlands and forests. For example, how many pollinating insects live part of all of their life cycles in woodland? If we loose these insects, our fruit trees and crops etc. won’t be pollinated and this could lead to very catastrophic results.

  157. Geoffrey March says:

    Despite the current and proposed controls on imported tree/shrub stock, it is only a matter of time before another devastating disease enters the UK in plant material or soil, as some pathogens can be completely undetectable at certain life stages. How many more disasters will it take before there is a 100% ban on imports to the UK?
    Geoffrey March

    • Her Here Geoffrey! We were so slow off the mark preventing the import of ash trees that the ash die back had a good hold on our trees weeks before we did anything about it! What can we do to hasten the process?

  158. christine olle says:

    What is your country doing to stop the destruction of the Indonesian Rain Forests, not happy with the news of using palm oil for biofuels – Please look into Aceh, Sumatra and see the destruction – this will most likely cause the extinction of the Sumatran orangutan, tiger, rhino, and elephant.

    • sonya lippold says:

      to christene olle, greenpeace and wwf are are trying to stop this destruction, what the UK government is doing, well I suspect investment opportunities are well subscribed to

  159. ricknikon says:

    Let’s adopt a coherent LONG TERM view to protect existing woodland and supplement it with new planting of native broadleaf trees. Can the Government demonstrate that it will count woodland growth as important to national wellbeing as economic growth? HSR ok but not at the expense of ancient woodland. Use existing rail track routes and brownfield areas, not the forests.

  160. Sekeeta Crowley says:

    Forests are the lungs of the planet, home for innumerable species, a recreation ground for us and our children, provides spiritual ease, and restores a sense of wellbeing in our busy world. If it was possible to put a monetary value on this how much would it be? Couple this to the worth of an ancient woodland, and you have something so precious which cannot be replaced. So what is this government doing to a) protect the present forests b) plan and fund future woodlands for the future generations of all species, not just the humans c) allow continued public access and educational facitlites to ensure they will continue to be appreciated for what they are.

  161. David Hawksley says:

    Woodland is essential habitat for species diversity. The biggest threat comes now from road building and proposed new railways such as HS2. These destroy the vital corridors of vegetation that allow the natural movement of plant and animal life. Often just a ditch or a hedgerow is enough to keep small areas of otherwise isolated conservation still viable. These can be led across motorways and railways by bridge or sometimes tunnel. This has been done on the Continent but I have yet to see it done in Britain. It would be much better to secure agreement to ensure the construction of these corridors than to seek to block construction of the roads and railways themselves. With comparatively little extra expense, there is no reason why the corridors of trade and the corridors of nature, both essential to all of us, should not co-exist.

    • chrissicat says:

      there were originally wildlife corridors within the railway system- used to be animals used the sides of the tracks to live in and move around

      • David Hawksley says:

        Yes, these little corridors – usually tunnels underneath the railway – can be very useful for particular species such as toads and badgers. But thinking further about my original comment, what I had in mind was an artificial tunnel for the motorway or railway to run through – perhaps about 50 metres long, with enough soil piled on top of it to allow natural vegetation and perhaps a footpath over the top connecting the areas on both sides of the artificial hill – a corridor for all species. If these were used there would be no need to re-route HS2 – or any other projected major railways or roads – to avoid wooded areas. This would provide a cheaper but satisfactory compromise and set an example that could be followed nationwide.

        • Nikki Graham says:

          I agree. If the HS2 (or any other development, for that matter) is to go ahead, then wildlife crossings are extremely important. I don’t think enough attention is paid to this issue in new developments in the UK.

        • Annie Walters says:

          David I totally agree, if we can build the channel tunnel then tunnels for trains should be a ‘piece of cake’!

        • Clive Coles says:

          We are having a similar debate in Suffolk where we have the developers, who are needing to connect the Suffolk One off-shore wind farm which is sited in the North sea into the national grid, are proposing to use underground cables rather than overhead power lines. Many folk are delighted as this will avoid the creep of yet more pylons and cables across our SSSI landscape. We already have a network of powerlines and pylons spreading out across our landscape as a result of Sizewell A and B (and if developed, Sizewell C)

          But there are objections even to this proposal as the route of the cable cuts through woodland as well as farmland . What has emerged from that debate is that even where you place tunnels underground you still need to cut a 55m corridor through what ever stands in the way. Moreover during the construction you also need to develop temporary service road access along the route to allow constructors vehicles and plant to get to wherever they need to be.

          if you bury and cover over, as I think you are suggesting, the engineers state you will not be able to plant trees on top of the tunnel. You can however allow the area to be restored to cultivation or even be grassed over and for natural scrub to regenerate. But the only time, now adays at least, where engineers allow trees on top of a tunnel is where the tunnel has been drilled through an established hillside so that there is sufficient depth of undisturbed soil to support the tree roots.

          Sadly I don’t think burying parts of HS2 will avoid the loss of trees along the route. It may however help mitigate the visual damage to the landscape as well as permitting
          footpaths and wildlife to cross from one side of the route to the other.

        • Barbara Patterson says:

          A very practical suggestion. Realistically as long as the population keeps growing, new roads and railways will continue to be built, no matter how much we protest. We have to use as many damage limitations as possible where we cannot succeed in stopping projects and as David says if successful it sets a precedent. We need more research into the viability of this.

    • sonya lippold says:

      to David Hawksley, some good constructive suggestions in this paragraph, why can we not learn from our continental cousins.

  162. think we need far more research into the development of disease resistant tree stocks in the UK and Europe wide. We are losing many of our deciduous trees here possibly due to changing climate so we really need good research
    and development in this field. And now if not very soon.

  163. William Hearnden says:

    Does the government have a policy at all on Ancient Woodland?What about the discovery of Nightingales in the wood that is a proposed building site in Kent.Here is a chance to prove that you do care about woodland and the environment in this country.

    • ANNA EVANS says:


      • Wayne Kirkham says:

        protect our native woods & forests, & you will also be protecting our wildlife!!!

  164. Martin Wise says:

    With the preponderence of imported Hazel Hurdles from eastern Europe, has Defra examined the sources of this coppice product to ascertain if there are endemic fungi that may be imported to the UK to the detriment of our remaining Hazel Coppice Woodland?

  165. Derek Frost says:

    Why are we importing Ash saplings, there is one Ash tree within 50 yards if my garden and over the years I’ve pulled out enough Ash seedlings to plant a small forest.

  166. Michael Binder says:

    Have you ever listened to the dawn chorus in a large wooded area???

    • ANNA EVANS says:


    • peter roantree says:

      yes i have,nothing better.

  167. Planting new woods, and preserving existing ancient woodlands are both medium to long term projects – how will the Minister ensure that these initiatives are protected from future short-term depredations and shortfalls?

  168. Maggy Rosentritt says:

    The numbers of birds and other wildlife is declining at a rapid rate due to man’s destruction and greed. What safeguards do we have when HS2 is bulldozing it’s way through the countryside destroying further habitat and ancient woodlands. These can never be replaced and I urge the Government to weigh up carefully passengers gaining travelling time against the beauty and diversity of the English countryside and centuries of growth.

  169. Joy Wardell says:

    With the proposed HSR going ahead now, will the government please ensure that plenty of land is set aside beside the railway and money is made available for large areas of native trees and shrubs to be planted.

  170. ANNA EVANS says:


    • chrissicat says:

      I agree on re-using the canals- we still have enough of them left to begin to use them for long distance transport- as well as recreational uses

    • peter roantree says:

      I agree get on with it.

  171. Bernard Cutting says:

    How can you claim to be the greenest when continuing immigration means more housing, roads, schools etc and less spaces and eventually woodlands

  172. Can any government truly justify the constant threats to woodland and forest ? The reasons trotted out are usually to do with short-term economic gain. Splendid though this may be for those of us in the here and now, or those of us who stand to make a fast buck, wouldn’t a government prefer to be remembered for having done something constructive, rather than destructive ? Break with tradition and invest in the long-term future of our ancient woods and forests by ensuring their safety and protection.

    • Chris Horne says:

      I like this! It’s positive. Maybe it will sometimes be necessary to use a bit of woodland for something important but I would like to see
      1) All woodland removed replaced by an area of woodland at least as big as the one removed.
      2)All ancient woodland classified and protected in the same way as listed buildings are protected. They are just as important, probably more so.

      • Nikki Graham says:

        I heartily agree with this.

      • Elaine Rowland says:

        Absolutely, our truly ancient woodland was there long before any listed buildings, it deserves at least equal protection.

      • Annie Walters says:

        I also totally agree with Francis and especially Chris’s comments Sadly better and quicker access around the country is necessary but not at any cost, it’s not only forests and essential hedgerows to the natural habitat but whole villages with beautiful
        properties and communities that will be lost for ever.

        I had wished to keep my reply within the remit of the Woodland Trust’s questions, unfortunately one has to place an enormous amount of blame for the needless distruction on certain parts of our beautiful country side for the expansion of schools, houses etc., plus the enormous financial strain on the British people on the huge amount of immigrants that have been allowed to flood into our country. There should be a total stop for a period of time.
        Can the Minister agree to have all trees removed for the path of the HS2 to a safe place to be replanted along side the railway lines once each area has been laid, and the surplus be planted in a new forest prior to one inch of the project being started.

      • Pam Harris says:

        I agree with this wholeheartedly. This Government is a disaster for the countryside and anything associated with it. They phaff around making grand speeches and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that might offend their landowning friends. And DEFRA well………. how long did they know about the problem with ash dieback before they decided to stop the imports? They talk about wanting to reduce obesity and get people active but where do they want us to be active – in the town centres?

    • Joseph James Marshall says:

      Very well said.

  173. John Macleod says:

    The woodlands are part of the natural heritage which we pass on to future generations. What can your government do to protect the broadleaf woodlands that we have now and what incentives can you give to encourage the planting of new ones?

  174. B.J.Tout says:

    Too much current comment focuses on HS2. What policy does the MInister have to ensure that small, valuable woodlands across the whole country do not disappear through neglect, or inappropriate development? If he has no policy, what IS his role in government?

    • Susannah says:

      I agree

    • Pip Pountney says:

      I agree! Also of concern is inappropriate woodland management schemes with Forestry Commission encouraging private owners and communities to view their trees as a business opportunity and then supplying the felling licenses!! The very best hard wood for wood burners is oak and it is now selling at a high premium. Greedy eyes are on our ancient, naturally grown trees and let’s be quite clear – replanting programmes do not replace these ancient gems.

      • Clive Coles says:

        That’s a bit hard Pip. I don’t see the Forestry Commission drumming up support for furthering business opportunities for private or community landowners. The Forestry Commission fulfils many functions one of which is the issue of felling licences. They are there to safeguard woodland interests. To quote from the introduction to their Charter:-

        “The Forestry Commission is the Government department that carries out the
        Government’s forestry policy in Scotland, England and Wales and, under the provisions of the Forestry Act 1967, is responsible for the control of tree felling. The purpose of such control is to safeguard the environment and amenity of the countryside, whilst ensuring that woodlands and forests are maintained as a renewable resource.
        The Forestry Commission controls tree felling through the issue of felling licences. We
        also investigate cases of suspected illegal tree felling and, when appropriate, prosecute offenders. Any owner or tenant convicted of an illegal felling can be served with a restocking notice to ensure that the trees are replaced”

        The Forestry Commission are only doing the job that they are directed to do under the terms of their charter. Woodlands should not be felled without a licence ~ the Forestry Commission have the power to enforce the replacement of trees.

        They practice what they preach by the way they manage the Public Forest Estate. Each forest has a forest design plan ~ when timber is harvested, the felled areas are restocked so that the overall tree cover is maintained.

        But of course they only have direct management control of 20% of English forests and woodlands. The remainder of our woodland is in private, Local Authority or Charitable Trust hands. But these landowners still need felling licences so the control over restocking should still be exercised

        In my experience we do find examples where Forest Services ( the licencing authority) waive the need to replant. They seem to be reluctant ( or unable) to stand up to other Government departments/agencies /NDPB’s where that organisation has conflicting interests and prioities. The Forestry Commission need to become more robust to such pressures.

        I am particularly concerned with Government moves to fragment the Forestry Commission, as if the licencing part of FC were to be subsumed into the same quango as Natural England, the forestry/wodland focus could be compromised and lost. This restructuring is already happening in Wales under devolved powers granted to the Welsh Assembly ~ I hope it never happens in England.

        Perhaps we should ask the Minister if the Welsh style of Landscape Authority can be ruled out of consideration for our English countryside. A restructuring of functions could follow on from the current triennial review of the Environmental Agency and Natural England. I think we all need to follow developments very carefully.

        • Joseph James Marshall says:

          A very thoughtful and informative post. I think you’ve stated the essence of the problem here:

          “The Forestry Commission need to become more robust to such pressures.

          “I am particularly concerned with Government moves to fragment the Forestry Commission, as if the licencing part of FC were to be subsumed into the same quango as Natural England, the forestry/wodland focus could be compromised and lost.”

          I suspect that the fragmentation is wholly intentional. This is the age-old strategy of divide-and-conquer. Then there will be ‘death by a thousand cuts’ – quite literally in the case of our trees.

  175. Caroline Lewis says:

    How could a travesty such as the unnecessary Bexhill-Hastings Link Road be permitted to go ahead? Even the Department for Transport deemed it a waste of money. As well as violating transport guidelines, it runs through an SSSI and blights ancient woodland. What is your opinion on this?

  176. Sarah Mulville says:

    I have been following closely the controversy surrounding Oaken Wood, an Ancient Woodland in Barming, Nr Maidstone in Kent and the planning application pertaining to it at Kent County Council. I want to know how our Ancient Woodland’s and it’s longstanding wildlife can truly be better protected?

  177. Martyn Vaughan says:

    I would like to ask the Minister given that his Government has decided to remove virtually all planning restraints in the name of “economic growth” what guarantee can he give that ancient woodland will not be bulldozed to make way for yet more souless housing developments?

    Martyn Vaughan

    • Nikki Graham says:

      This is another very good question. Not enough effort is made to build on brownfield land, or other pockets of land that have become available in already urbanised areas. And if there is a land shortage, then more flats will have to be built (as they are on the continent) so that we make better use of it.

    • peter roantree says:

      We need that guarantee,

    • Sacha N says:

      Good question – I would like to know the answer to this question also. And it’s not jut woodland at threat, but all natural habitats. The desire for “economic growth” does not take into account the wider effect on the landscape – more concrete means we become more susceptible to flooding which costs the country in more ways than one. I would like to know what plans our government have to ensure more landscape-scale implications of proposed developments are considered – if that was considered more building projects would be refused planning permission because of the adverse affects of flooding, pollution, water quality, loss of habitat and carbon sinks, and much more besides including the loss of beauty which is priceless!

  178. mary chambers says:

    Why do we have to import saplings instead of growing them here in the UK?

    • Joan Mather says:

      When I see the vast numbers of beech and ash seeds generating and producing shots I cannot understand why there is any need to import trees. Seems like madness

      • I have ash trees, also beech and hornbeam, and they grow like weeds. Every spring I uproot a hundred or more. Pussy willows, too. I was horrified to find we import them, but apparently we’re short of land here to grow them on to a useful size.

    • Pamela Barton says:

      I agree with Mary. We have the advantage of being an island, so why import and risk bringing in disease which our native species cannot resist? But please let us plant more native trees!!

    • peter roantree says:

      I agree,can not understand why,no need for it.

  179. sue thorne says:

    I was planning to pose exactly the question Sally M Thompson has. Also how can David Cameron hold up his head as when he was campaigning to become PM he promised that his would be “The Greenest Government Ever” I would not ever trust his party to be green ever again and probably would not ever vote Tory again

  180. Martin Savage says:

    The UK, and England in particular, has a far lower percentage of afforestation than almost snywhere in Northern Europe. The benefits of woodlands is universally recognised and I therefore urge this government to make good on its promise to ensure a (substantial) increase in broad-leaved woodland both by new planting and by protection of existing woods and forests

  181. Ian Milligan says:

    What is being done to increase the land area available to, and biodiversity of that area, in the UK.

  182. Sally M Thomson says:

    When our trees are under the scourge of diseases from abroad and whole woods and forests could be wiped out, how can the Government justify cutting through ancient woodland with the proposed HSR?

    • Brian Senior says:

      I was just about to type my suggested question but see this latest one is almost exactly what I would have said. Go for it.

      Brian Senior

    • Jane Owens says:

      My question exactly.

    • Stephen Berry says:

      I also have this concern and wholeheartedly agree with the question. (It is put more succinctly than I was going to say!)

    • apolden says:

      I too agree, but would go further. We have been told a lot of new trees will be planted to offset those destroyed (impossible for ancient woodland), but what sort of trees will they be? Serried ranks of conifers to avoid ‘leaves of the line’? We need native trees.

      • Julie Taylor says:

        Reading about the latest ‘development’ in the HS2 story – 9 out of 10 legal challenges thrown out – did nothing to boost my belief in this government’s green credentials. I too am very concerned about the amount of irreplaceable ancient woodland this train line is set to destroy. For me this destruction can never be justified. What will it take to get this government to understand these are not just any old trees we are talking about. This is the equivalent of our ‘rainforest’. It’s irreplaceable. We must preserve it not destroy it for some questionable ‘economic progress’. Why won’t the government listen?

        • Susannah says:

          I would like to know this as well

        • Christine says:

          Yes I totally agree. It is our ‘rainforest’. This government has no green credentials! It just pays lip service to anyone that cares. Any new trees planted cannot replace the diversity of plant, insect and microbe life that would also be lost, hundreds of years of life cannot be replanted or replaced. Once gone is lost for ever!

          • Diane says:

            I agree, in spite of waffling on about being green the government is far from it, and HS2 is a prime example. If you want to get from London to Birmingham 40 minutes sooner then catch an earlier train, simple, and £30 billion and swathes of countryside saved!

          • Bernard Cutting says:

            I loved the reply by one participator that had not been mentioned before – IF THEY WANT TO GET THERE 40 MINUTES EARLIER CATCH AN EARLIER TRAIN – BRILLIANT – save the country billions and save the countryside

      • dp says:

        Please can we grow our own seedlings in this country employing our own people instead of importing them from Holland or wherever. (Isn’t this how the ash disease originated?)

        • apolden says:

          Absolutely! Most native trees seed themselves easily anyway, so we need to pot up the saplings until they are large enough to be planted out. Then they need to be cared for! The Department of Transport has promised to plant “millions of trees” to replace those they will be cutting down, but nothing has been said about after-care for them. Without care – watering for example – trees will just not grow, so all that the passengers will see from their expensive white elephant are rows of dead trees.

    • Maureen says:

      ‘TREES are Us’ we are connected; the very air we breathe is the vital link between nature and humanity. Wake up Government and smell the danger of ‘destructive apathy.’
      Look what happened to the H.Service! Wake up and smell the breeze before it is too late. Trees do not grow overnight… Plant an acorn of promise NOW!

    • Nikki Graham says:

      Yes, I want to know the answer to this too, and also how the impact on the woodland cut through by HS2 will be minimised. Will there be any tunnels or viaducts?

    • Ray says:

      With Diseases threatening our ash, oaks, junipers and coniferous larch forests, and insects such as the Oak Processionary Moth and Asian Longhorn Beetle, surely the minister responsible for our forests is able to understand how the proposal to remove ancient woodlands must be opposed. Please protect them from the proposed HSR

      • Colin & Julie Dilling says:

        We agree. How does saving 40mins travel time at a cost of 30million equate- the ancient woodland must be preserved- planting new stock especially if imported might introduce even more diseases.
        Colin & Julie

    • Rachel Stevens says:

      I agree with this question

    • Robin Gilleade says:

      This was going to be my question too. I am also concerned about the weakening of the planning laws which will allow development on green belt sites. The views of local people are supposed to be being taken into account but I doubt very much that they are.

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