Michael Gove has seen more than 1.3 million trees growing at the UK’s largest modern forest in the Ochil Hills in central Scotland.
Confor arranged the visit to Jerah to demonstrate the wide-ranging benefits of modern productive forestry to the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Mr Gove was accompanied by Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling.
Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, the trade body for the UK’s £2 billion forestry and wood-using industry, briefed Mr Gove about the scheme’s benefits for the environment, economy and local community – along with Tim Liddon, of Tilhill Forestry, which manages the site.
Jerah was designed as a modern productive woodland which, as well as growing timber, was specifically designed to help reduce flood risks in Menstrie, to the south of the planting site – and to help renew black grouse populations in the area. A significant part of the site was designed and planted as a community woodland, enhancing access for walkers, fell runners, mountain bikers and paragliders.
Just 41 per cent of the 1000-hectare site is dedicated to timber production, with the balance comprising open ground and native woodland for landscape, environmental and public amenity benefit.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Forestry is vital to the UK’s economy, and at Jerah I saw first-hand the role tree planting has to play in managing flood risks, helping wildlife to thrive, and simply providing a beautiful place for people to live and work.
“Through successful schemes like Doddington Moor in Northumberland and ambitious plans for a Northern Forest along the M62 corridor, planting more trees will be at the heart of our work to deliver a Green Brexit.”
Stuart Goodall said: “Michael Gove has made very positive comments about the role of forestry in delivering a cleaner, greener future for the UK and it is extremely important to show him practical examples of what modern productive forestry can deliver.
“Tilhill Forestry worked tirelessly with the local community and all interested parties to get the balance of the site right. The result is a new forest designed very much with the landscape and with people in mind – a forest which will deliver timber to support the local economy as well as very wide-ranging benefits for the environment and the communities around the site.”
Tim Liddon, Forestry Director of Tilhill Forestry, said: “The Tilhill team is very proud of what we have achieved at Jerah and we were delighted Confor was able to arrange the visit by Michael Gove and Stephen Kerr. We need politicians to visit sites like this to see for themselves what mixed modern forestry looks like – and what it can deliver.”
Stephen Kerr, Conservative MP for Stirling, said: “Forestry and timber processing are really significant industries in my constituency. The Norbord plant at Cowie, near Stirling, which employs 330 people. was the UK’s first manufacturing site for MDF and now operates state-of-the-art production and runs 24 hours a day, every day, producing materials used in the structure and furnishing of all our homes. It is essential for the future of this plant and other similar facilities across the UK that new productive forests like Jerah continue to be planted in appropriate locations.”