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Independent Panel on Forestry report published

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IPF final report July 2012
IPF final report July 2012

Download the full IPF final report July 2012

The much heralded report by the Independent Panel on Forestry on the future of forestry in England was released this morning. It is anticipated that the Government will take until January 2013 to consider the Panel’s recommendations and that the suspension on sales of public forests will be extended until it publishes its response. Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, will be issuing a written statement later this morning.

Here’s a quick summary of the central messages:

A woodland culture for the 21st century

  • Urge society as a whole to value woodlands for the full range of benefits they bring. We call on Government to pioneer a new approach to valuing and rewarding the management, improvement and expansion of the woodland ecosystems for all the benefits they provide to people, nature and the green economy.
  • Government and other woodland owners to give as many people as possible ready access to trees and woodlands for health and well-being benefits – this means planting more trees and woodlands closer to people and incentivising more access to existing woodlands.
  • Ensure that land-use creates a coherent and resilient ecological network at a landscape scale, by integrating policy and delivery mechanisms for woods, trees and forests in line with the principles in the  “Making Space for Nature” report, published by the Lawton Review.
  • Urge Government, woodland owners and businesses to seize the opportunity provided by woodlands to grow our green economy, by strengthening the supply chain, and promoting the use of wood more widely across our society and economy. These and other actions should be set out in a Wood Industry Action Plan

Making the vision a reality – the role of our national forestry organisations

  • Propose that the public forest estate should remain in public ownership, and be defined in statute as land held in trust for the nation. A Charter should be created for the English public forest estate, to be renewed every ten years. The Charter should specify the public benefit mission and statutory duties, and should be delivered through a group of Guardians, or Trustees, who will be accountable to Parliament.  The Guardians will oversee the new public forest management organisation evolved from Forest Enterprise England urge Government to ensure that the new organisational landscape makes specific provision  for international and cross-border arrangements, working closely with the devolved Parliaments on sustainable multi-benefit forestry implementation, research and in the international arena.

In the Introduction to the report the chair of the panel Bishop James Jones wrote some of the most eloquent words about our forests and woods that I have read in a long while:

Our forests and woods are nature’s playground for the adventurous, museum for the curious, hospital for the stressed, cathedral for the spiritual, and a livelihood for the entrepreneur. They are a microcosm of the cycle of life in which each and every part is dependent on the other; forests and woods are the benefactor of all, purifying the air that we breathe and distilling the water of life. In short, trees are for life.

Bishop James Jones, Chair, Independent Panel on Forestry. July 4th 2012

The ginger group Our Forests will be releasing a statement later today.

Gabriel Hemery


Other resources related to the IPF Report

Our Forests campaign posters

June 29, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

For everyone for ever - download poster

Our Forests has produced a series of posters free for anyone to use in publicising the issues critical in securing the people’s vision for the future of woods and forests in England.

The posters reiterate and emphasize our six simple demands for Government:

  1. Our woods & forests protected forever!
  2. National support for a national resource
  3. No sales until public woods safe
  4. Stop chopping the Forestry Commission
  5. Public Forest Estate – Double it!
  6. Good management for all woods

Read more about Our Forests

Gabriel Hemery

Public ready to rise up again if Government fails them over public woods & forests

June 27, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests

The Independent Panel on Forestry is due to publish its report and recommendations to Government on the future of our public woods and forests (the Public Forest Estate), the Forestry Commission and England’s woodland and forestry policy in general on Wednesday, 4th July.

Our Forests has been in contact with many of those groups who share our concerns and who have signed up to the following public statement, which has today been put to Government and sent out to all 171 Members of Parliament that have public woods and forests within their constituencies:

“We believe that public ownership of the Public Forest Estate must be secured, through new legislation. The rich cultural, historical and natural diversity of our forests and woods, and full access to them, is best protected under the continued stewardship of the Forestry Commission, fully resourced to sustainably manage and expand our multi-purpose Public Forest Estate now and in the future.”

This statement has been fully endorsed by the following grassroot campaigns:

 

The Our Forests ginger group recently conducted a national survey together with 38 Degrees. Just under 90% of those responding said they would campaign against the Government if their concerns about and hopes for England’s public woods and forests are not met. Read the Survey summary.

Rich Daniels, Our Forests member and chair of Hands Off Our Forest said:

”It would seem political suicide to do so, but the evidence on record from Parliament is that the Government could put significant areas of public woods and forests back on the market. If they go against the public will on this issue, they can expect a conflagration in constituencies across England. It would be unwise for Government to think that the sale of any significant part of OUR public Forests and woods would pass without reigniting the flames of protest in the hearts of people and forest communities across England. The prospect of any our public woods and forests being threatened again after we have fought so hard to protect them will be met with even more determined campaigning.”

Our Forests press release 27 June 2012Read the full press release

Our Forests 38 Degrees survey results summaryRead the Survey summary.


Read more about Our Forests

National survey confirms public support for our forests

June 27, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests

Our Forests was formed to ensure that the public’s concerns and aspirations for our woods and forests are taken into account by the Government-appointed Independent Panel on Forestry, to persuade the NGO community to adopt a more proactive stance on the issue in line with the public’s concern, and to put forward a positive Vision for all of England’s woods and forests. We published a Vision in January 2012.

To explore whether that Vision accorded with what people who are passionate about forests and woods want for the future, the group engaged with members of 38 Degrees via a focus group and through conducting a robust on-line survey that yielded statistically significant results. These activities harnessed the considerable reach and experience of 38 Degrees in bringing together a wide cross-section of people to take action on issues that matter to them (534,000 people signed up to 38 Degrees on-line petition to ‘Save Our Forests!’ ).

Headline results

  • Just under 90% of those surveyed (1,292 respondents – including people from across the UK,
    but predominantly England) are ready to campaign against the Government if their concerns
    about and hopes for their public woods and forests are not met.
  • Over 98% want to see an end to short-termist political interference with our public woods and
    forests.
  • Nearly 90% felt that our public woods and forests merited Government (i.e. public taxpayer)
    support.
  • 65% of people were prepared to contribute a minimum of £5.00 (33% from £5.00 – £10.00) to
    more than £10.00 (32%) per year as taxpayers (current settlement granted to Public Forest
    Estate amounts to c. 30p per taxpayer per annum).
  • 91% felt the Forestry Commission was ‘needed to look after our woods and forests’.
  • 86% of those surveyed support Our Forests’ Vision for ‘one billion more trees’.
  • 87% of people supported a doubling of England’s overall tree-cover from 10% to 20% over next
    50 years.

Our Forests 38 Degrees survey results summary

Read a summary of the Our Forests 38 Degrees survey

Our Forests Vision – have your say

May 18, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests

The Independent Panel on Forestry is due to release their final report on July 4th.  Although much anticipated by all those with an interest in the future of England’s trees and forests, it is likely that Government will issue quickly a holding statement and hold back on a fully-considered response for many months afterwards.

Meanwhile, the Vision presented by Our Forests for the future of England’s trees and forests has been well-received right across the sector and by the public at large. The Ginger Group is now keen to hear the views of the public, particularly from the half a million people that objected so strongly to the Government’s original proposals to sell off England’s public forests, in partnership with 38 Degrees.

Recently, 38 Degrees shared a post on their blog about Our Forests, written by ginger group member Jonathon Porritt. He explained why Our Forests are hoping 38 Degrees members would share their views on the Vision. You can read his blog post here.

Our Forests have come up with some questions they’d like to ask 38 Degrees members. You can answer the questions whether or not you’ve read the report. But if you’d like to read it to see more about the vision, you can download a copy here.

The survey won’t take long to fill in, and the researchers looking at the answers won’t see your name and personal details – just the answers that you give.

Take part in the survey

Gabriel Hemery

Forest mensuration on a smartphone

April 20, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

iHypsometer-icon

Forest mensuration (measuring trees and forests) has come of age. I have written a few posts about forest mensuration and also how to use a smartphone to measure tree height – see links below. I recently came across some really impressive apps for use by foresters and woodland owners to measure trees and areas, and to calculate stand basal area, using an iPhone smartphone.

The Relascope (Spiegelrelaskop), invented by Austrian forester Walter Bitterlich (1908-2008), is a specialist and expensive instrument used by foresters to estimating tree height, distance to tree (although this is complicated), and the basal area of a stand (the sum of the cross-sectional area of trees, taken as a dbh and calculated inside the bark). Although a superb instrument and highly accurate in trained hands, the Spiegelrelaskop is not likely to be used by many private woodland owners as it is unaffordable to many (£1500/$2400). Other relascope types are available, see How to use a wedge prism relascope to measure basal area, but the development of powerful forest mensuration tools for smartphones, which most people carry today, is very welcome.

The apps that I’ve been trying are available free from the Apple app store, developed by Taakkumn Watakushi from Fukushima  in Japan. I have no hesitation in recommending these two apps as I’m not aware of anything else like these that are available for foresters.  He also provides a compass surveying app (iCompass Surveying) that enables areas to be measured but I have not tested it.

iHypsometer-developer's website

iHypsometer - click to read more on the developer's website

The iHypsometer is a free (in the ‘Lite’ version) tool for estimating tree height. It works on the same principles of trigonometry that I explained in How to measure tree height using a smartphone but it copes with sloping ground (i.e. when the base of tree is not level with your feet) and it completes all the tricky maths for you. It requires that you have a ‘friend’, whose height you should measure, and who should stand next to the tree, although I find that a stick cut to a suitable height works just as well. Angle measurement works in the same way as I described in How to measure tree height using a smartphone except that it uses the short side of the phone. The only feature that I would like the developer to improve is to use the longer side of the phone for sighting along, as I have found in other apps that this provides much greater accuracy. Visit the iTunes app store to download iHypsometer

iBitterlich-developer's website

iBitterlich - click to read more on the developer's website

The iBitterlich is a free app for calculating forest stand basal area. It uses the view from the camera on an iTouch (latest model)/iPhone 3G and up/iPad, on which it overlays buttons where the number of trees of different categories of dbh can be counted simply by pressing them. In the screenshot (below) I was looking at the second tree that I had counted as a ‘+3′, and I had already counted 4x ‘+2′ and 11x ‘+1′ trees in my sweep, that at this point was almost complete at 320 degrees.

iBitterlich iphone app screenshot

iBitterlich iphone app screenshot. This tree is a '+3'. Basal area and Stand volume are displayed at the top.

After finishing a 360 degree sweep of the forest stand and counting all the trees, the average tree height is entered in another field, and form factor can be adjusted. The stand volume m3/ha and basal m3/ha are then displayed at the top of the screen. Visit the iTunes app store to download iBitterlich

Have you tried these apps in the forest and did they work for you? Are you aware of similar apps from other developers? Is there a similar set of apps for the Android platform? Do let me and readers know by sharing your views via a comment.

Gabriel Hemery


Other posts about forest mensuration

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