The English Government launched a consultation document in June about the future of England’s trees and woodlands. In order to gather views for a national ‘Tree Strategy’, see https://consult.defra.gov.uk/forestry/england-tree-strategy/ . The consultation closes on September 11th.
As the professional association for the Forest School community we are wanting views from the membership and the wider FS community on the strategy. In August we attended a consultation discussion with DEFRA and FC and are also contributing our own response.
This is our initial response to the consultation but we would like to have member views so we can change and tweak according to members feelings and thoughts on the strategy. With that in mind, we invite members to e-mail their thoughts by the end of Tuesday September 8th at email@example.com and label the response Tree Strategy.
And/or attend a zoom session on Monday 7th September at 8.00pm, by using the meeting link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85854749489
The following is a summary of what the consultation document is asking and a precise of the FSA’s initial response for people to talk to before we submit our final response on September 10th.
We would like you to consider the questions below while considering your response, you don’t need to answer all of them, but it gives a framework for contributing, do look at the four areas of the strategy we have commented on at the end of this document;
- In considering these questions can you think about the types of communities and Forest School groups we are looking at and what support they need.
- What do you see as the key barriers to involving FS communities in tree planting and woodland management?
- What is effective in encouraging the public and communities to create and manage woodlands?
- How can we enable local FS communities to plan and identify land for tree planting, or areas of woodland they could manage?
- Can you state any good examples of where your local FS communities have got involved in tree planting and woodland management?
The strategy is committed to expanding woodland and increasing the tree cover in England as it brings biodiversity, social, economic and environmental benefits, including contributing to a net carbon zero in 2050 (which we, the FSA, feel is a date that possibly needs to be brought forward given the urgency of climate change). The government has committed to increase planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares of trees per year by 2025, and has committed to long term increase in tree cover in the 25 year environment plan, from 10% to 12% by 2060. This tree strategy will set out the Government’s tree policy through to 2050.
There are 4 key areas in the consultation document;
Summary of FSA’s initial thoughts on the strategy and questions asked in the consultation.
Expanding and connecting trees and woodland
What are the key financial barriers to woodland creation and tree planting. The FSA has suggested there needs to be more ongoing support for tree care and woodland creation; an increase in woodland grants available and develop new partnerships with landowners where the financial incentives promote annual income and incorporate community access and benefits. We also feel there needs to be more diverse woodlands eligible for financial support and to spend more time and money in engaging young people and local communities with landowners and leading woodland organisations. The FSA would like to see more priority given to both protecting current woodlands and creating woodlands, in the right place, over other infrastructure/building developments. There is a need for government to work with the sector and industry to promote more sustainable UK timber industry supplying sectors such as building.
Protecting and Improving current Woodlands.
The FSA see a strengthening of planning in favour of woodland protection and access and providing more education on the value of woodlands. Also introduce incentives for grey squirrel and deer management and make deer and squirrel management as essential parts of woodland creation and management schemes.
Engaging People with planting of Trees and Woodland
We see this as a key area of the strategy that needs strengthening with more emphasis on woodland ‘learning’ and ‘play’ in the informal and formal curriculum. There needs to be more incentives for creating community woodlands and opening up woodlands to education settings. This includes improving the quality of access and appropriate infrastructure that may be needed, depending on the types of groups that need access. There needs to be more advice and collaboration, possibly with incentives, for landowners to work with community groups. The community forests have largely been successful and creative in involving local communities and we feel more of these ‘larger landscape’ initiatives need to be set up to support local communities – working in partnership with specific communities and their needs.
Supporting the Economy
Promoting new skills in ‘green design’ and sustainable forestry along with amending public procurement to incorporate home grown sustainable timber and encouraging planning requirements to incorporate more sustainable practises are key to stimulating demand for growth in UK sustainable timber. There needs to be an upskilling and promotion of the industry and all the jobs involved in woodland management from the planner, forester and tree planter through to the educator. The demand chain needs more stimulus.