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Forestry Minister Jim Knight has praised the Forestry Commission for its work alongside woodland owners and sector stakeholders to develop the long-term sustainability of English woodland.
The Forestry Commission published today what it has done to support the sustainable management of England’s existing woodlands – fulfilling its commitments laid out under the Sustaining England’s Woodland report, published in October 2002.
Jim Knight said:
“Making our forests sustainable is the only way of securing their future, and that is central to forestry policy in England. While woodland owners have had a difficult few years, and while we all acknowledge that the sector can do more to realise the potential of our woodland areas, it is good to see how much work has been done over the last three years.
“I hope we can now build on this and maintain the momentum and level of open engagement going that the FC has established with stakeholders across the forestry and timber sector. Only with that drive and engagement can we really deliver the woodlands that England can and should have.”
In 2001, the Forestry Commission initiated the Sustaining England’s Woodlands (SEW) Review, and were set a series of recommendations to respond to by a representative Steering Group. The Commission undertook a widespread consultation across sectoral partners as part of the review.
The document published today sets out the commitments made in 2002, actions undertaken up to 2005, and plans for further delivery up until June 2006.
The Steering Group was reconvened to assess the work done against the commitments, and their commentary is incorporated into the document. Judith Webb of the FTA, who chaired the SEW Steering Group, added:
“One of the welcome characteristics of the SEW process was the openness and genuine sense of engagement in which FC England took it forward. The Action Plan describes a challenging set of commitments and impressive progress has been achieved. There is of course more to be done if England’s woodlands are to become truly sustainable.”
Key areas of work outlined by the report, the Action Plan feedback includes:
· Work on the biomass and woodfuels agenda
· Defining forestry’s regional role through the Regional Forestry Frameworks
· Preparing the Ancient and Native Woodland policy: Keepers of Time
· Preparing the Deer and Grey Squirrel Action plans
· Realigning grants systems, for more effective targetting of woodland priorities
· Mapping and developing the accessibility of woodland to the public
The Forestry Commission Chairman Lord Clark said:
“The Forestry Commission is all about delivering actions! This document shows what a busy three years it has been for my colleagues up and down England. But it also highlights our work in bringing together key partners and stakeholders with interests in the sector, experts in the field, and woodland owners. It exemplifies the broad level of work we carry out at every level of Government, across each region, and with so many different partners.“
The document can be viewed in full at www.forestry.gov.uk/england-sew
Notes to Editors
1. In April 2001 Elliot Morley announced that he had asked the Forestry Commission to review its support for sustainable management of existing woodland in England.
2. The report of the independent review’s Steering Group, and the Forestry Commission response to the review’s recommendations were published in October 2002. This is available from the Forestry website at the link above.
3. Copies of the document will be sent to all of the 400 consultees who took part in the initial consultation in 2001-2. They are also available from the Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.gov.uk/england-sew
4. Forestry Commission England is the Government’s forestry department for England. It manages over 250,000 hectares of public forest land owned by Ministers for multiple public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development; supports other woodland owners with grants, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of woodlands; and advises Ministers on forestry policy. For further information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/england
5. Forestry is a devolved policy area, and this report covers England only.
Further information is available from Rebecca Britton on 01223 346 027