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The following is a copy of a letter from the Forestry Commission's Director-General, Tim Rollinson, to the editor of The Guardian newspaper in response to an article entitled 'Tree Planting Projects May Not Be So Green', which appeared in The Guardian on Friday 23 December 2005
"We would agree with the general theme of the above article on the value of tree planting to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide - that tree planting projects should use the right trees in the right places, and that there are other, highly effective, means of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
"However, we would like to clarify one point. The article states, 'Tree planting ... is little more than a short-term fix. Once the trees die, they rot, releasing the carbon back into the atmosphere.'
"This is true, but misleading, because it ignores the long-term carbon-neutral cycle of new trees replacing the ones that have died, either by replanting or regeneration. In this carbon-neutral cycle, the new trees re-absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide that the dying trees released.
"The important thing is to ensure the long-term health of our woodlands with good management so that this natural cycle of renewal can be continued in perpetuity.
"The article also ignored the important role that wood from sustainably managed woodlands can play in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide by substituting for other, more-energy-intensive and non-renewable materials.
"Your readers might be reassured to know that sustainable forest management is normal practice in the UK, where the forested area - and therefore the amount of carbon locked up by growing trees - is actually increasing.