We are welcoming the Independent Panel on Forestry’s final report, and want to see the Government put all the recommendations into action as soon as possible.
It’s an excellent report setting out an ambitious vision for our woodlands. We know that national parks have got a lot to offer in terms of championing forests and creating new woodland. For instance, here in the Peak District there is a lot of scope for developing clough woodlands and extensions to existing woods in the uplands.
We’re particularly pleased that the Panel has recommended that the public forest estate should remain in public ownership, and that the Government has quickly endorsed that call. Swift action is now needed to increase access to those public woodlands, and to private woods too, as advocated by the Panel.
The real test now is how the Government will act to take forward these ambitious recommendations. Ministers will rightly take time to consider the report, but the six month timetable they have set themselves is long enough. We need to maintain momentum on this issue. The hundreds of thousands of people who protested against the original sell-off plans will want to see a positive new vision for woods and trees that will guarantee their future for generations to come.
Friends of the Peak District will be championing Peak District woodlands, and working to ensure that any new wood-based economy is in keeping with our distinctive landscapes. Increased woodland management could lead to a less tranquil rural scene and involve development to support it, including: new access roads, saw mills, sheds for storing wood fuel. New buildings in wood may also challenge traditional and vernacular design, and would need to be designed to enhance local identity. We will be making sure that these things are done in a way that is sensitive to the National Park setting whilst supporting opportunities for rural diversification.