Worth their weight in more than gold

Our latest campaign action is based on the Trust’s fears that funding for forests may fall victim to cuts in the upcoming Spending Review.

Historically, Defra has been an easy department to target – in the last Spending Review it had to deal with a 30% overall reduction. But forests need the Treasury’s support to grow and nurture a woodland culture that will benefit us all. Of course we know the Government realises how valuable they are, many policies recognise this. But we can’t assume they will be protected. In the shouting match against budget cuts, woodland has no voice.

So our campaign is all about reminding the Treasury of the huge value for money that is generated by trees, woods and forests, even when times are tight.

We’ve had a little play with the iconic banknote, and created a note to send as a reminder to the Treasury to which you can add your own mesage. We thought you would like to see some of the messages that our supporters have sent in with their notes so far. You can send your own reminder and help ensure the promises made to forests are realised by sending your note to Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury – simply click this image to email or post your note before June 21st:

Email or post your note straight to the Treasury today

Help us remind the Treasury that forests can’t afford cuts – you can email or post your note today

“Any time lost in the growing time for trees is to rob us of our future.. OUR is a collective noun… those living now and those that follow our children…”

“As a hard-up pensioner, walking in local woods is a free and pleasurable way to keep me sane. The woods and forests of this Land are essential for the well-being of the whole Country.”

“As a mother and a teacher, I know how much woods are enjoyed and cherished by children.  Please continue to invest in our forests.”

“As a regular volunteer in my local country park I see the advantages to the local and wider community and want it to continue for future generations.”

“As Headteacher of a rural primary school set in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the North Pennines, I cannot emphasise enough the importance in maintaining our woodlands. “

“At difficult times it is essential we plan for the distant future: our children and our grandchildren. It is never acceptable to put our irreplaceable heritage at risk.”

“Because of recent problems with flooding and the loss of trees through ash die back and sudden death oak disease, planting more trees makes sense. Britain is not Britain without her national trees.”

“Being a widow and living on my own, if I feel down the best tonic is to get out and walk in the woods around where I live. Not to mention the exercise it gives me! Yes to all of the above but this is my personal reasons to INVEST IN OUR WOODS.”

“Britain is beautiful. Lets keep it that way. Especially for Scotland and northern England’s tourist income. Green spaces are good for mental and physical health and trees provide a vast habitat for biodiversity. I appreciate your time in reading this email and hope it will support your continued commitment to the environment.”

“Continued funding is essential to fight the various diseases attacking our trees if we want to preserve our woodlands for future generations to enjoy.”

“Conversations with friends and neighbours confirm my view that environmental issues are coming more and more to the fore in public awareness, to the extent that they will have a significant impact on the next election. Please show that you are on the right side of the debate.”

“Dear Mr Alexander, please don’t fail to fully understand the importance of our woodland and miss this opportunity to leave your legacy for generations to come. Ta.”

“Even without the undoubted financial value, aren’t some things worth things worth protecting for their own sake?”

“Forests give too many benefits to society to lose.”

“Ultimately, we all need these spaces to enrich our lives.  They are too important to treat thoughtlessly. Please make careful decisions.”

“I am suffering in this recession, I’m out of work and we cannot afford a family holiday or other such treats but I strongly believe that if we allow woodland to disappear further instead of planting more future generations, our children and grandchildren, will scorn our short-sightedness and inability to see what really matters in life instead of short term personal and financial gain.”

Are we being naive? Do we have the time to influence the Treasury’s choice in focusing public funds in 2015-16, as we approach the last fence of the race? I prefer idealistic, perhaps, but really it feels like there is no better time than RIGHT NOW, just before the final calculations are signed off, before the red box is dusted off for its regular photo opp, to turn the whisper of spring’s new leaves outside the windows at Horse Guards Road into more of a noticable rustle. There’s no need to shout; when it comes to investing in the future, it’s obvious that we can’t afford not to.

So if you’re sending a note to Danny you’re helping him to choose investment over cuts. Think of it as a twiggy tap on the shoulder to remind him of the value of woodland and its vulnerability. It should make his choice so simple. A reminder that we believe in all ways, life’s better with trees. And if he should need a little extra encouragement, now he also knows that you believe it too.

What would you tell Danny? Please send your note today – whether you go via inbox or letterbox, the Treasury needs to know how you feel about forests. We only have a few days to make a difference!

About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change, Defra, Government Affairs, Protection, Woodland creation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Worth their weight in more than gold

  1. Pingback: Just how much will forestry cuts cost? | Woodland Matters

  2. Roderick Leslie says:

    Obviously there is huge competition for cash – but there is an even bigger need for growth, to dig the country out of recession. We have a huge resource of unmanaged woodlands – and bringing them back into sustainable management would generate over £200m per annum of new business,£5 billion new investment, enough energy to heat the equivalent of 250,000 homes and would reverse the long-term decline in woodland biodiversity. And, amazingly, through money allocated to the Renewable Heat Incentive the Government funding is already in the budget !

    But Government needs to support the private sector by deploying its forestry resources to help bring woodland back into management – and that includes conserving and fostering our scarce skills base. With this huge opportunity in front of it, Defra taken no action whatsoever for the whole three years this Government has been in power and has now tied itself up with it’s internal organisation – the triennial review – which could well shrink and then destroy the opportunity to realise the win-win economic opportunity woodland management and woodfuel to heat our homes and cut carbon emissions offers.

    Yes, further cuts to forestry will harm our woodlands and the many benefits we all enjoy from them – but – in this Government’s own language – they will also squander what could be the single best opportunity before us today to develop and grow the rural economy. All Government Departments are meant to be growth departments. It is time for Defra to step up to the mark and take real action for all of us, rather than looking for back door ways to get its own back on the Forestry Commission – and the hundreds of thousands of real people (voters) who objected to the sale of our national forests.

    • Kaye Brennan says:

      Blinking good points Rod! On our webpage we included a link to the Biomass Energy Centre report for the Forestry Commission, ‘The economic value of the woodfuel sector’, which suggests that 15,000 jobs could also be created in the UK as the woodfuel supply chains develop…

  3. The value of our woodlands is as immeasurable as the value of the monarchy to our country’s heritage, but whereas the woodlands of the earth are essentially the lungs of life, monarchies are merely as human as we are.

  4. 8arrows says:

    Destroy our woodlands & our planet will die

  5. Rowen Wilting says:

    As a forestry worker of over 34 years…the cuts have cost me & many other skilled forest craftsmen our jobs…..with out the skill & knowledge that maintaining our forests requires, they will go to ruin.Each year retiring workers are not replaced & many are offered’ voluntary’ redundancy (they get a much better payout if they go ‘voluntarily’ !)
    Once they are a mess…… the government will say that DEFRA & the Forestry Commission (a part of DEFRA) cannot maintain them & they will have to be put into private hands.
    It’s just a back-door way of achieving their origional aim…Sell Off’s.

    The Forestry Commission will cease to exsist in two years time…watch this space!

    • That’s a very bleak outlook, Rowen, but I fear you may be right. All the more reason to campaign against cuts and oppose privatisation at every stage.

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