New strategy for England’s woodlands

The UK Forestry Commission has published a strategy document that sets out how England's woodlands can help to improve the environment, the tourist and leisure industries, the economy and rural development.

The ‘England Forestry Strategy – A New Focus for England’s Woodlands’ is based around four key programmes: Forestry for the environment and conservation; for access, recreation and tourism; for economic regeneration and for rural development. The programmes will run over the next five to 10 years.

“The Government is committed to pursuing policies that will ensure the health of the British economy and environment in the long run” said Elliott Morley, Forestry Minister, launching the Strategy on December 15. “Our Forestry Strategy is part of that process.

For nature conservation and environmental benefits, the Strategy sets out a number of action areas, including:

  Reviewing the effectiveness of existing measures for protecting ancient, semi-natural woodlands and, if necessary, giving them added protection;

  Seeking opportunities to replace woodland lost to development with equivalent areas of new planting;

  Supporting research to improve the understanding of the environmental benefits of trees, woodlands and forests, particularly in relation to air and water pollution;

  Monitoring important woodland habitats and species

  Targeting woodland grants to reverse the fragmentation of existing native woodlands, conserve priority species, and help with the preparation of management plans for semi-natural woods;

  Identifying sites of historical importance and ensuring that proposals for new planting that might affect them are evaluated before applications are determined.

For rural development, the Strategy looks at how to manage both new and existing woodlands in such a way as to bring continued benefits to local economies, creating jobs and wealth.

The Strategy looks at the role that trees can play in strategic land-use planning as part of economic regeneration programs. Restoring former derelict land with trees and integrating them in urban development both benefits the community and helps attract inward investment

Access, recreation and tourism is the final component of the Strategy. More than 300 million visits are made to England’s woods every year. The Strategy aims to enable forests to continue to support both recreation and tourism for as wide a range of interests as possible.

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