UK publishes response to forestry report

By Erin Voegele | February 06, 2013

The U.K. Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs has announced a new, independent public body will hold in trust the nation’s publicly-owned forests. The announcement came as part of the government’s response to the Independent Panel on Forestry’s report on the future of trees and woodland.

“Our woodland economy has the potential to create jobs and growth, and the action plan the forestry industry is establishing will set out a road map to achieve that,” said U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. “Most importantly of all, we need to look after this precious resource.  Recent pest and disease outbreaks have underlined that in addition to increasing woodland we must protect what we have and help others to do so.”

Regarding energy, the government policy statement notes that wood products harvested from England’s woodlands help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the replacement of more energy-intensive fuels with biomass.

The statement also points to the potential of local renewable heat projects to provide economic returns to owners of woodland areas. These projects would also benefit many businesses involved in the wider forestry sector, and address the energy needs of communities. The statement points out that this is especially true for communities in remote areas.

“There are currently around 600 woodfuel supply outlets across Britain selling to local markets,” states department in the report. “There is potential to do more, provided this market is not developed at the expense of other wood processing industries and does not create unfair competition for our home grown products. Undermanaged broadleaved woodland in particular could supply significant quantities of fuel without interrupting current supply chains. More effective management of our woodlands will also make a long-term contribution to our challenging climate change targets, through reducing reliance on fossil fuels and energy intensive materials.”

A full copy of the “Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement: Incorporating the Government’s Response to the Independent Panel on Forestry’s Final Report” is available on the Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs website.