Saturday, 7 July 2012

England’s forests to be saved for the nation

Report recommends ‘triple bottom line' valuation of England's woodlands - delivering benefits for people, nature and the green economy
July 2012. The Independent Panel on Forestry, set up to advise the Government on the future of England's forests and woodlands, has published its final report to Government. The report calls for the benefits of England's woods and forests to be re-valued for all the services they provide. These include not only areas for recreation, but also clean air, clean water, habitats for wildlife, locking up carbon, shading in cities - even helping in flood reduction. Wood is the raw material for timber frame buildings, furniture, flooring, fuel, and of course paper.
Triple bottom line
The report highlights the ‘triple bottom line' that forestry delivers and calls for a revival of a woodland culture that appreciates how important trees are for people, for nature and the economy. The public forest estate is the single largest provider of outdoor leisure and recreation in England. And it is also the single largest timber producer, as well as being a vital habitat for wildlife. Research shows that these elements are producing annual returns on investment estimated at £400 million.
With more than 80% of England's woods and forests being outside of the public forest estate, they call for more of these woods and forests to be sustainably managed to create a substantial impact.
Speaking on behalf of the Panel members, The Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, said: "The Panel's work over the last year has shown that our woodlands, managed sustainably, can offer solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing society today. We have consulted widely, visited woods and forests around the country and read over 42,000 submissions.
There is untapped potential within England's woodlands to create jobs, to sustain skills and livelihoods, to improve the health and wellbeing of people and to provide better and more connected places for nature.
Most importantly, the public forest estate needs to be free from the electoral cycle, for trees have long lifecycles - decisions taken now are looking to a future that is 50, or even 100, years down the line. And the bodies managing the public forest estate and advising woodland owners need to evolve and be free to become much more entrepreneurial.

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