Are we making progress on better protection for ancient woodland?

As we head towards the Easter break there is a real feel that spring is properly here, although it’s perhaps a little too early to talk of summer (climate change notwithstanding). But, in those places where an institutionalised approach to term-times reigns supreme (places like schools and the Houses of Parliament), the time is right for an end of spring-term report and to dust off the PE kit ready for the summer term.

One of the Government’s current environmental challenges, and one that certainly merits a progress report, is its response to the growing chorus of criticism over its poor performance in protecting our irreplaceable ancient woodland.

school report

Our end of term ‘school report’ acknowledges good effort and sets out where Government must try harder

Our ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign is aimed at holding the Government to account on its poor performance and seeks to draw it to the table to discuss those areas where it really must try harder. A bit like a ‘Parents’ Evening’ session at this early stage in the year (when it’s not too late for the capable pupil to ‘pull their finger out’ and come good before the real exams kick in). For a full breakdown against the eight key areas of concern, read the ‘school report’ (PDF, 1 MB – opens in a new window).

Many of us will be familiar with the long winded and formulaic approaches that sometimes inhabit the modern school report – gone are the days of deciphering eight different sets of handwriting (although that did feel a bit more personal, at least). But, let’s cut to the chase. How are they doing against the curriculum that we have set out? How responsive are they to our efforts to lead them through it?

Well, we have got them to come to the table, starting with a meeting scheduled with the Secretary of State for the Environment in early May. As you might expect, we will offer modest praise as well as criticism, but also (we hope) real and constructive dialogue about what working together and trying harder can achieve.

So, along the way, we have had to deal with the usual distractions; lapses of concentration, a little plagiarism, some forgetfulness, some trips down cul-de-sacs of understanding and some slowness of pace – but also some bright flashes of real application and understanding that bode well for the future. It’s all there in the full progress report.

We have got this far because our challenge is being carried forward by the voices of 45,000 others. In twelve weeks, people have joined our call to the Prime Minister for better protection of our precious ancient woodland at an average rate of over 500 every day. It’s not too late to add your support, email the Prime Minister now.

So, here’s to a well earned rest over Easter – then back in refreshed and ready for more.

Austin Brady, Director of Conservation


About Austin Brady

Director of Conservation (UK) at the Woodland Trust
This entry was posted in Austin's blog, AWPR, Campaigning, Conservation, Consultation, Defra, England, Government Affairs, Planning, Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS), Protection, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Are we making progress on better protection for ancient woodland?

  1. sherwoodforestcommunityvision says:
  2. June McCarthy says:

    I have seen so many trees, often so called protected trees, felled locally and in other places I visit, in town and city, where for the health of the local residents and air quality , and conservation of wildlife, would think that greater priority would be given to preservation. Worryingly, So little regard is payed to the trees by many land owners and developers.

    I also believe that an important element or plank is missing from government strategy to reduce global warming and the carbon dioxide percentage increase in the atmosphere. The government is taking action on recycling and reduction of carbon fuel and energy consumption. But what else has man done which has caused the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? As development of housing, roads advances in this country, we have felled so many mature trees and forests which hold carbon and are our most efficient land sequesters of carbon dioxide.

    Therefore in addition to encouraging people to recycle and reduce their consumption of energy the government needs to address the vital element of educating the public on the importance of valuing and retaining mature trees wherever possible and planting as many trees in gardens and public spaces as possible as they are our best ally and workers in slowing down global warming.

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