Wildlife Trust’s response to Forestry Report
4 July 2012
The Independent Panel on Forestry has published its report today (Wednesday 4th July). The Panel’s remit is to advise government on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England.
In response to the report, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust welcomes the Panel’s recommendation that the public forest estate remains in public ownership. We look to government to accept this recommendation.
The Secretary of State (Caroline Spelman) made this statement about the report.
The Wildlife Trust also welcomes the recognition by the Panel of the many opportunities that the management of the public forest estate offers to people and wildlife – from restoring ancient woodlands to providing ‘green lungs’ for our cities. The critical issue now is to ensure there is a new mandate and sufficient resources to deliver these benefits.
The Wildlife Trust, as a local organisation delivering real, positive changes on the ground, is committed to help deliver these opportunities.
In the New Forest National Park the public forest estate includes internationally important heaths, bogs and ancient woodlands. We welcome the recommendations of the panel of the important role of the public forest estate in maintaining and restoring the landscapes of the national park. The Wildlife Trust has consistently argued the case that the government has an inescapable responsibility to continue to care for the New Forest.
On the Isle of Wight, the public forest estate includes sites such as Firestone Copse and Combley Great Wood that are strongholds for some of Britain’s rarest and most threatened mammals, including dormice and red squirrels. Elsewhere on the Island, the public forest estate also includes important open spaces such as the recently restored heaths of Brighstone Forest and Bouldnor. The Wildlife Trust is delighted to be working with the Forestry Commission to care for Bouldnor Forest.
Inland from Portsmouth are the woods of the historic Forest of Bere. This landscape was once like the New Forest and we welcome the emphasis the panel gives to restoring and enhancing such historic landscapes for people and wildlife. The Wildlife Trust believes it is vital that high quality green spaces should be available for the people of the growing cities of south Hampshire.
The public forest estate in north Hampshire includes large areas of conifer plantations on heathlands. We welcome the emphasis given by the panel to the restoration of ancient woodlands and open spaces on sites currently occupied by plantations.
Notes to Editors
The Wildlife Trusts have stated:
“ We want to see integration, better protection, reconnection and restoration of woodlands and a new remit for the Forestry Commission.
“There should be a Public Forest Estate with a new purpose, focused on nature, people’s connection to nature and the delivery of other public benefits.
“We intend to engage with the Government to ensure any positive recommendations are acted upon, and to strengthen those which may not go far enough for wildlife.”
The Wildlife Trusts have pressed for the following criteria against which to judge the Independent Forestry Panel’s report:
The Wildlife Trusts’ seven criteria
1. A new remit for the Forestry Commission
The Wildlife Trusts want to see a shift in the Forestry Commission so that its primary focus is on nature and the provision of other public benefits. The Public Forest Estate should be an exemplar of sustainable management. This will require a change in the Forestry Commission’s statutory remit.
Forestry should be part of a coherent strategy for the natural environment: woods being one part of a resilient ecological network. Forestry policy and grants should be integrated with other land use and management policies and incentives.
3. Better protection
We want to see better protection for existing woods, especially ancient woodlands.
4. Reconnection of people with the natural environment
People’s access to the Public Forest Estate (PFE) should be protected. Government should also create more opportunities for people to enjoy and be inspired by woodlands and forests outside the Public Forest Estate.
5. Reconnection of woodlands at a landscape-scale
Natural regeneration and tree planting should be encouraged to buffer, extend and link existing woodlands. In all cases, a ‘right tree in the right place’ principle should be adopted.
6. Restoration of existing woodlands
Existing woodlands that could be richer in wildlife should be brought to life by appropriate, sustainable woodland management. This can increase habitat quality and help to reverse declines in woodland wildlife.
7. Restoration of open habitats under plantation forestry
Areas of lowland heathland, meadow and other internationally important open habitats planted with conifers must be restored with urgency.
Clive Chatters, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, 01489 774400, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Hutchings, Hampshire & isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, 01489 774400, email@example.com