The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) welcomes the Government’s Tree Health Resilience Strategy published 29 May 2018 outlining a National Action Plan to build the resilience of our trees, woods and forests to pests and diseases.
As a member of the Tree Health Group, the RFS was among organisations consulted by Defra in forming the strategy which feeds into the Government’s 25-year plan to improve the environment.
The strategy emphasises a collaborative approach to improve the baseline diversity, health and condition of our trees, woods and forests and includes strengthening plant biosecurity through a new Plant Health Alliance.
A consultation will also be launched on new quarantine arrangements for high-risk plants.
RFS chief executive Simon Lloyd says: “The strategy clearly spells out the many benefits of well managed woodland and recognises that it is important to consider both species diversity and genetic variation within and among populations.
“It is now up to the sector work together, with Government support, to bring more woodland into management as well as to plant new woodland which is adapted to environmental pressures and is resilient to expected future conditions.”
The strategy estimates the annual UK value of forests, woodlands and trees, is at least £4.9bn per year (equivalent to over 0.2% of national income) when the values of air pollution absorption, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and recreation are included in addition to the value of timber and woodland products.
It focuses on delivering three outcomes to build resilience – resistance, response and recovery, and adaptation with the following of environmental goals for tree resilience:
- Extent – a continued increase of trees, woods and forests
- Connectivity – enhancing the linear forest and matrix of trees within other habitat settings
- Diversity – enhancing the genetic diversity and increasing the structural diversity of our treescape
- Condition – healthier trees and thriving woodlands and forests
Launching the strategy, secretary of state Michael Gove said: “The UK has a global reputation for setting the high standards for biosecurity of plants and trees but there is no room for complacency. We must seize every opportunity offered by Brexit to strengthen our biosecurity.
“In 10 years’ time I want to be able to say our oaks are thriving, that pests are being kept at bay and that our woodlands and forests are flourishing.
‘’Trees benefit our economy, society and wellbeing significantly and this strategy sets out how we will preserve them for generations to come.”
Download the strategy and find out more about the RFS’s commitment to woodland resilience www.rfs.org.uk/news/hot-topics/resilient-woods/