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On Wednesday 18th June, the Forestry Commission will be hosting a prestigious event to commemorate 200 years of planting trees and safeguarding the future of England’s timber supplies.
The Verderers, the Inclosure Commissioners and others will be attending The Cyril Hart Arboretum to celebrate the importance of the Forest of Dean’s trees to England’s historic security. The 1808 Dean Forest Timber Act, signed on 18th June in that year, sealed the protection of the Royal Forest for the nation by giving Inclosure Commissioners a legal mandate to enclose 11,000 acres land in the forest in order to establish plantations of oak as a strategic resource for future generations.
The Dean Forest Timber Act had its foundations in the visit to the area by Lord Nelson in 1802. His report to Parliament a year later urged the government to urgently act to replant the Forest to provide oak for naval warships; this Act was the key to achieve this. This coincided with the appointment of Edward Davies, (later renamed Edward Machen), as ‘Deputy Surveyor’, a tradition continuing today in the person of Rob Guest at the Forestry Commission. Rob is now the public face of the Forestry Commission in the Forest of Dean, acting as the main representative for issues effecting this jewel in the crown of the pubic forested estate.
Machen oversaw a massive planting boom which resulted in the fine stands of ancient oaks in the Dean which we still value so much today, although no longer solely as a timber resource any more.
Celebrations will begin with the unveiling of an Inclosure boundary stone, which will replace one of the many lost over time. Guests of the Forestry Commission will be treated to a guided walk around the Arboretum and the chance to learn more about the Forest’s traditions.
Rob Guest said: “Forestry Commission staff are very proud of their traditional role in protecting this vital resource for the future of communities. Nowadays, although it is vital to maintain a timber resource to support local timber processing industries, it is increasingly important to support the tourism and creative industries which are burgeoning in the Dean. More and more companies and charitable sector organisations appreciate the beauty of the area and come to the Forestry Commission to use the forest resource as a backdrop for their activities. Without this vital piece of legislation, none of this would have been possible.”
v The Forestry Commission is the Government Department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woodland and increasing their value to society and the environment.
v The nineteenth century ambition to enclose 11,000 acres took until 1823 to realise and proved to be controversial with local people. The Dean Forest Riots of 1831 riots led by Warren James are well documented. The riots which destroyed many of the Inclosure fences was prompted by tardiness in re-opening up these areas once more after the trees were seen to be established.
v Contact: Dee Ashurst, Public Affairs Manager; Telephone 01594 270074