Reacting to Michael Gove’s speech to the Oxford Farming Conference today, Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of forestry and timber trade body Confor, said: “Confor welcomes Michael Gove’s confirmation that, post-Brexit, we can do things differently, and more sustainably, in our rural areas.
“There is scope for our land to deliver more for society and for the environment, and Mr Gove’s speech recognised that, with specific mention of planting more trees as part of a new direction – away from the Common Agricultural Policy and towards a broader natural capital approach.
“There is scope for all to benefit from a new way of working – farmers, foresters, local communities and wider society. Following the publication of its Common Countryside Policy paper, Confor will continue to contribute constructively to that debate and looks forward to the Command Paper on our rural future promised in the spring.
“It is heartening to see that Mr Gove also recognises the need to reduce the unnecessary complexity of grant applications. Confor is working closely with the Defra team in this area and has already seen some positive changes.
“In the short-term, however, it is important that Government sets out how it will increase the momentum that has begun to build around new tree planting in England. Establishing new forests and woodlands takes time, and everyone involved needs to be assured that as we transition to a new approach, forestry is at the heart of the debate on a truly sustainable rural future.”