We are amidst a period of unrivalled public focus on England’s forests.
I understand that the Government will be announcing the public consultation on the public forest estate on Thursday 27th.
The Public Reform Bill is also due to be debated in the House of Lords this coming week.
Media interest is high at present. Anne McIntosh MP, Chair of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs select committee, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 this morning. Also featured was Sue Holden of the Woodland Trust. The BBC Newsnight film is due to be broadcast on Monday 24th.
In the debate generally I have been disappointed that little mention so far has made of the impacts on timber sales from changes of ownership, as the UK’s timber industry is reliant on Forestry Commission sales. Timber is the UK’s sixth largest import, with one million tonnes of hardwoods imported every year, let alone the softwood imports. We should be doing all we can to encourage more home-grown timber production. Then there’s bioenergy too and the carbon benefits that come from sustainably managed forests. This issue is about more than only ancient woodlands and dog walking.