The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) has welcomed Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s plans post Brexit to incentivise farmers who enhance the natural environment, including planting trees but warns incentives must also include bringing existing woods back into management as well as to planting new woods.
The RFS also welcomes plans for a £2bn Northern Forest as part of the upcoming 25 year Environment Plan.
RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd said: “Mr Gove’s announcements are in line with recommendations by the EFRA Forestry in England Inquiry to increase the rate of woodland creation and to simplify grants and incentives. However, In England 42% of woodland is unmanaged, and that represents a vast resource for timber and timber products as well as environmental services which is simply not benefitting the UK economy. We would urge him to ensure that incentives for the good management of existing woodlands is incorporated.
“Along with increasing woodland creation comes a need for greater investment in the forestry supply chain and an emphasis on more research into tree diseases and pests to ensure that woodlands that are planted flourish and achieve all their objectives, whether that is for timber, biodiversity, ecosystem services or landscape enhancement.”
The Northern Forest will link Mersey Forest, Manchester City of Trees, South Yorkshire Community Forest, the Leeds White Rose Forest and the HEYwoods Project. Planting plans include a mix of native broadleaf trees such as oaks and conifers including spruce and pine,
Simon Lloyd says : ” We are delighted to see this will be mixed planting. A diverse range of species, both native and non-native will ensure greater resilience and sustainability of the forest. Softwoods form the basis of grown in Britain timber and this will be good news for local economies as well as helping to reduce flood damage and other environmental benefits and boosting tourism in the area. ”
On scrapping CAP and redesigning incentives for farmers Mr Gove has pledged: “We will design a scheme accessible to almost any land owner or manager who wishes to enhance the natural environment by planting woodland, providing new habitats for wildlife, increasing biodiversity, contributing to improved water quality and returning cultivated land to wildflower meadows or other more natural states.”
On the creating of the Northern Forest he says : “This new Northern Forest is an ambitious and exciting project that will create a vast ribbon of woodland cover in northern England stretching from coast to coast, providing a rich habitat for wildlife to thrive, and a natural environment for millions of people to enjoy. This new forest will help us deliver a Green Brexit and help to deliver on our pledge to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”