Friday, 30 November 2012

Independent Panel on Forestry report

BFTF received an email today about the Independent Panel on Forestry report, which has made a series of recommedations to government on the future of the UK's forests. I urge you to read the very moving forward to the report, which you can find at the link below:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/forestrypanel/files/Independent-Panel-on-Forestry-Final-Report1.pdf

And it is perhaps worth mentioning three of the recommendations that particularly struck a chord with BFTF :

Recommendation: We urge society as a whole to value woodlands for the full range of benefits they bring. We call on Government to pioneer a new approach to valuing and rewarding the management, improvement and expansion of the woodland ecosystems for all the benefits they provide to people, nature and the green economy.

Recommendation: Government and other woodland owners to give as many people as possible ready access to trees and woodlands for health and well-being benefits – this means planting trees and woodlands closer to people and incentivising more access to existing woodlands.

Recommendation: We propose that the public forest estate should remain in public ownership and be defined in statute as land held in trust for the nation. A Charter should be created for the English public forest estate, to be renewed every ten years. The Charter should specify the public benefit mission and statutory duties, and should be delivered through a group of Guardians, or Trustees, who will be accountable to Parliament. The Guardians will oversee the new public forest management organisation evolved from Forest Enterprise England.


Lime Tree Fruit


The Secretary of State for the Environment (who was then Caroline Spelman) has responded in a communication you can find in the link below:

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/July_2012/04-07-12/4.DEFRA-Independent-Forestry-Panel-Report.pdf

The key points of the response are perhaps these two paragraphs below :

"The Panel’s work will also inform the future of the Public Forest Estate, a key component of our English woodland network. I therefore agree with the Panel that the Public Forest Estate should continue to benefit from public ownership. A well managed and publicly owned estate provides the sort of public benefits we need to protect – such as access and biodiversity.

But I also agree with the IPF that the way that the Estate is cared for and managed should evolve to meet the challenges ahead of us. We need a new model that is able to draw in private finance, make best use of Government funding and a means to facilitate wider and more comprehensive community support."

bluebells at Bucknell Woods


BFTF is keen to support the reports recommendations so has eamiled the current SEcretary of State (Mr Owen Paterson MP) with the following :

Dear Secretary of State

I have just read the recommendations of the The Independent Panel on Forestry and found that many of them struck a strong chord with the way I would like to see the UK's forests managed. In particular, I am deeply supportive of the recommendations to ensure that the value of the countrys woodlands are recognised, that sustainably industries using woodlands are encouraged and their value to the health and wellbeing of the country is recognised.

I know that you care about the environment, and that your work on fisheries has been welcomed by environmental groups, so I hope that you can do all you can to implement this report's recommendations so that the UK's forests can be something we are all proud of.

Update 03Jan13: Received the following encouraging response from the Defra:

The issues you raise are important and will be considered along with the rest of the report in the Government’s response to the Independent Panel on Forestry report. Our forests and woods are part of our heritage and our future. We want to see them protected and enhanced, so that they can make a better contribution to the environment, the economy and people’s well-being. We agree that a well managed and publically owned estate provides the sort of public benefits, such as biodiversity, and access that we need to protect.

The Government is committed to safeguarding the natural environment, one of the key themes contained in the report. In the Natural Environment White Paper we committed to providing appropriate protection to ancient woodlands and to more restoration of plantations on ancient woodland sites.

We want to ensure a robust ecological network that is resilient to climate change and other threats and covers a range of habitats, including open habitats. It is important that we also ensure the condition of existing habitats is of high quality through good management.

We are currently considering the Panel’s report and recommendations and will respond fully in January 2013.


Update 18 jun 2013: Challenging the Government to fund DEFRA and the Forestry Commission properly:

Following a prompt from the Woodland Trust to challenge the Government to do the right thing in the forthcoming spending review, BFTF has done exactly that with the following email to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP (with a copy to BFTF's locla Labour MP and Conservative party for good measure:

"The Government has made positive moves to recognise the importance of the nations forests by agreeing with much in the Independent Panel on Forestry report of 2012. Please do not undo that good work by reducing the funding for the agencies (such as DEFRA and the Forestry Commission) that are needed to actually put those recommmendations into practice"

Update 25 Jun 201: Apparantly, the Woodland Trust received feedback that the "message has been heard" and that the campaign had been put in front of Danny Alexander

Update 17 Aug 2013: BFTF has been of the view that it is better to send an individual, hand crafted, email rather than just being part of an email petition, believing that the former was evidence of some degree of committment while the latter was sometimes just bandwagon jumping. BFTF asked the Woodland Trust about this and they responded with the following interesting comments :

"...[all petition emails] in this campaign go direct to where they need to at the Treasury - they are sent to a monitored inbox which [the government] confirmed would be the best one to use. We arrange for supporters to come via our website to take action so we can give them updates and latest news as the campaign progresses, and also to make sure we can say to our target, in this case the Treasury, that we have had x actions taken, as this means we can check on what they say they have received and it also enables us to hold them to account. When our call needs to be specific, for example when we are dealing with a complicated issue like this, we pre-populate the email in order to ensure the message gets through, and include the option to add personal messages which give it extra weight and also means emails can't be dismissed as spam."

Related Links
Woodland Trust

Image Sources
Lime Tree Fruit
Bucknell Wook Bluebells

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