31 January 2013
The RSPB say they are encouraged by how the Government has responded to the recommendations from the Independent Panel on Forestry on the future of England’s woodlands, but they must now turn the positive words into reality.
In its response, launched this morning [31 Jan], the Government confirmed the future of public forests. However, the report leaves many questions regarding the long-term funding unanswered.
Dr Mike Clarke, RSPB chief executive and former Forestry Panel member, said: “Whilst these proposals are encouraging, they won’t help if our woodlands are starved of funding and effective management in the long term. Healthy and well-managed woodlands are one of our greatest natural assets. England’s public forests cost £20m a year to fund, but the benefits they bring in terms of the environment and people’s health and wellbeing are worth £350m. Today’s announcement signals Government is starting to understand this wider value.
“If money-saving decisions affecting our natural environment are made in a piecemeal way, we risk squandering our natural assets.”
New public body
The Government’s response includes proposals to create a new public body to oversee the Public Forest Estate held in trust for the nation. The new body will have a clearer long-term remit and be accountable to the nation for its use of money, delivery of wildlife, access and local community needs.