Ancient woodland and veteran trees are in the safe hands of Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow.
Ms Pow was elected as chair of a brand new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees.
The group aims to bring together MPs and Members of the House of Lords to raise awareness of ancient woodland; examine the threats it faces; to consider the steps necessary to protect it; and to discuss how to better value and protect the nation’s veteran and special trees.
Ancient woodland is defined as land that has been continuously wooded since 1600.
Just two per cent of the land area of the UK is covered in ancient woodland and it is under increasing threat from development.
The Taunton Deane constituency has 8.9 per cent Woodland cover and 65 ancient and veteran trees and Rebecca is keen to see these figures maintained.
Adding to tree cover is a part of the work that the Woodland Trust undertakes.
They now provide trees to local communities and schools through their ‘tree pack’ initiative.
There have already been nine tree packs distributed in Taunton and Rebecca is keen to hear from anyone else who wants to take advantage of the offer.
The group’s first meeting took place last week in Parliament.
As a first step towards protection, the group agreed to send a letter to DEFRA to get Standing Advice on ancient woodland reinstated on Natural England’s website.
Rebecca said:“I am delighted to be elected chair of this new group, which we hope will do important work over the course of this parliament to raise the profile of ancient woodland and veteran trees and make positive steps to ensure these are better protected.
“Trees are a vital part of our environment and the ancient woodlands here in the UK are the equivalent of precious rain forests all over the world.”
James Cooper, Woodland Trust head of Government Affairs, said: “Each ancient wood is a unique product of its location, geology, soils, climate and history – conditions that cannot be re-created elsewhere. They are places of inordinate beauty, reservoirs of archaeology and economic history, and a source of inspiration for local culture and folklore.
“Increasingly, decision-makers are acknowledging the value of ancient woodland, yet the Woodland Trust has on record more ancient woods under threat from development than ever before. This precious habitat is not sufficiently protected in the law and we hope this new, cross-party group will help lead to better recognition and protection of these irreplaceable woods and trees – before it’s too late.”