...has the Panel and the Government met our 6-point challenge?
In its report, the Independent Panel on Forestry has clearly documented the enormous potential of forests, woods and trees.
It has presented a series of ambitious and positive recommendations to drive England's woodland policy forward, including a challenging target for tree planting to ensure new woods are created for people and wildlife.
Our Chief Executive - and former Panel member - shares her views, and we discuss what's next
Keep up to date:
Final Report - the headlines:
- We're pleased to see that the report includes a challenging target around creating new woodland, and that there's potential to secure the restoration and better protection of ancient woodland.
- We fully supported the continued role of the public forest estate and so we're pleased that the Panel also champions this.
- Even better, the report does not advocate mass sell-off of the estate, something you opposed with us last year along with so many others.
- The Government must make decisions now and take action for our forests.
We are delighted that former Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, confirmed on the same day that the public forest estate is safe from mass disposal.
Our full response
It is vital that the Government now works towards ensuring the estate is effectively resourced and developed to deliver more benefits for more people.
Our reaction to the Government's response
Our challenge to the Panel:
When the Panel was established in 2011 we set out 3challenges to the Panel for its Final Report to Government.
Here’s our assessment against those tests:
|The Panel should build on the numerous reviews on aspects of forestry policy undertaken over the past 10 years and not attempt to reinvent the wheel.
||High marks - the final report highlights the National Ecosystem Assessment and Ecosystem Services,
recognises the role of trees and woods in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and brings forward proposals from the Lawton Review and the Natural Environment
White Paper. The report also asks for an invigoration of
the existing policies on restoration of Plantations on
Ancient Woodland Sites and plantations on other
important open habitats.
|The Panel should be bold and decisive in its recommendations and set an agenda for change, not one based on the status quo.
||High marks - the Panel recommends a range of changes to deliver more benefits to wildlife, people and the economy. This includes an ambitious target for woodland creation, and suggested changes to the government forestry agencies that will enable them to deliver many
of the other recommendations.
|The Panel should focus particularly its attention on the areas where public passions and concerns were raised during the recently abandoned public consultation, such as access and the protection and restoration of ancient woods.
||High marks - the report comments positively on retaining, improving and indeed increased funding for the Public Forest Estate. It also highlights the need for improving access, restoring woodland (plus open ground habitats)
and more protection, though it falls short of suggesting SMART targets for these issues.
We also set 3 challenges to Government. We now hope Government can respond equally well to these recommendations!
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