The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) welcomes news during Grown in Britain week of a Government aim to reduce burdens for landowners wanting to plant new woodlands and forests and of an increase of 7% in demand for British timber.
But, with only a slight rise in the number of woodlands considered to be in management – up from around 53% to around 55% in England and up to 60% in Wales and Scotland – the RFS pledges to continue to encourage and support woodland owners seeking to manage their woodlands well.
RFS Development Director Simon Lloyd said: “The Grown in Britain campaign has thrown a welcome spotlight on to the many benefits of a strong British timber industry to our economy, biodiversity and wider environmental and social benefits.
” However there remains a huge challenge to bring more woodlands into sustainable management. With demand for wood fuel high, there has perhaps not been a better time in recent history for owners to invest in their woodlands.
” The RFS field meetings continue to support the exchange of knowledge and ideas between woodland owners throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland; we have and are launching new initiatives to help support owners, managers and the foresters of the future to develop the skills and knowledge they need to develop woodlands that are managed for excellence.”
On Monday, speaking at the Grown in Britain One Year On event, Forestry Minister Dan Rogerson said the Government could help facilitate growth by keeping a clear focus on better regulation principles. To reduce burdens on landowners who want to create new woodland, he said, the Forestry Commission will soon be undertaking a pilot in the North East to help ensure that a full environmental impact assessment is required only where absolutely necessary. He also praised the synergies between Grown in Britain and the Government’s stated objectives to protect, improve and expand the UK’s woodlands and forests.
Dougal Driver, CEO of Grown in Britain, said: “80% of the timber we use in the UK comes from abroad but the message from the construction and retail sectors is clear: their preference is timber Grown in Britain.
“Recent research with the construction sector, for example, has shown that over 60% of those surveyed would be prepared to include a clause requesting the use of Grown in Britain timber in their contracts.
“Our focus this year has been on creating and launching a license scheme that highlights and promotes British timber products, and gives a guarantee of their source and origin.
“When a customer buys a Grown in Britain licensed and labelled product they have assurance that it’s home-grown here in the UK.
Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said: “It’s great to see forestry and the businesses that use timber thriving. Grown in Britain is doing a wonderful job making people aware of the importance of British forestry to our economy and society. People are connecting their love of trees with their love of wood and this helps build new markets.
“This is true for all woods that supply our timber – both the softwoods we use for building and our higher value hardwoods. Here in particular there’s a very special opportunity for the broadleaved woodlands that supply our hardwoods because by bringing these often neglected woodlands back into production we can improve habitats at the same time as providing new employment.
“We also need to create new woodlands to provide our timber and fuel in decades to come. This should become easier if we can show real returns on our current woodlands, and building new and profitable markets is the way to achieve this. The exciting role for Grown in Britain is to turn this vision into reality.”