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Forest Diary, entry five

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Consultative Panel and MP Julian Lewis

Autumn is a busy time for the Forestry Commission, with lots of our forest projects well underway. Earlier this month, I invited our Consultative Panel and local MP Julian Lewis to a tour of the New Forest to witness first hand many of these on-going projects and discuss future forest plans.

The panel is made up of members from the local parish councils and representatives from local associations who are passionate about the New Forest and play a key role in the Forestry Commission’s proposals and forest developments.

We began our whistle stop tour of the New Forest with a presentation of our Forest Design Plan in Frame Inclosure. This involved the team demonstrating to the panel the plans for shaping the woodland for the next 100 years, including our tree felling work which was the topic of the last Forest Diary.

Translating these long term plans into a timber harvesting operation takes a team approach  to consider the wildlife and habitats, visitor use, deer movement, ancient monuments and of course the trees themselves. Working with trees and forests, our vision for the future is measured in decades with an individual operation often at five yearly intervals - just one small step on the way.

The New Forest is home to a mosaic of different habitats and wildlife and the panel were able to see our work on butterfly conservation, deer management, oak timber harvesting, the impact of pests and diseases, planting climate resilient trees and river restorations. The Forestry Commission and panel were able to share knowledge and best practice to ensure the New Forest is protected now and in future generations.  

Being able to discuss with the consultative panel some of the management issues we face on the ground was really helpful. It was the perfect opportunity to address some of the challenges the forest faces today and issues, such as climate change, we will face in the future. The panel is represented by a wide range of organisations encompassing a variety of views and expertise that help us with our forest plans and ensuring that the New Forest is a place local people can enjoy for years to come.

Look out for next week’s column which celebrates National Tree Week.

Kevin Penfold, Forestry Commission Acting Deputy Surveyor