Wood Conservation Wins Through in Govt U-Turn Over Forests

A government-appointed panel of independent advisors declared Britain’s publicly-owned forests to be a national asset and strongly urged against any sell-off.

The Independent Forestry Panel – chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool – said that it had received over 42,000 responses to a consultation from people and organisations interested in wood conservation and other forestry matters and noted that recent research has made a correlation between the existence of accessible woodlands and a nation’s physical and psychological well-being.

In its final report to the government, it said that “we need a new culture of thinking and action around wood and woodlands; a new way of valuing and managing the natural and social capital of our woodland resource, alongside the timber they contain.”

The report argued that proper wood conservation and other forestry management measures could play a part in “a sustainable economic revival” and recommended that England’s woodland area should be increased from 10 per cent to 15 per cent by 2060. It also said that education should include “an element of woodland-based learning” for every child.

The government has accepted the key recommendation of the report and said that “we will not sell the public forest estate.”