7 December: UK Government launch to advance ‘policies and approaches that support low carbon construction and increase the use of wood from sustainably managed forests in the built environment’
At an event co-chaired by the United States Special Presidential Climate Envoy, John Kerry and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources for Ghana, Samuel Jinapor at The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) the UK government and 16 other countries endorsed the following statement:
England’s National Wood Strategy launched at Confor conference
Presented by co-author Tom Barnes at this weeks Confor policy conference, the strategy was described as a blueprint for “planting, growing, harvesting and processing conifer and broadleaf trees in England”. It aims to put timber production at the heart of policymaking, calls for 75% of private woodlands to be under active management by 2040, and asks for a positive and consistent narrative on the creation of productive forests.
Mr Barnes, who co-wrote the document with Confor Deputy CEO Andy Leitch, said the key message from the Strategy was ‘clarity’ around we want to plant trees. If the UK wants to grow more of its own timber, it must grow more softwood – and therefore plant far more fast-growing conifer trees.
“This is a positive move forward for the forestry sector as a whole, across the UK,” said Chris Jones, independent specialist forestry advisor, “We look forward to seeing progress towards the six key goals outlined.”
Six key goals forestry in England must address
It contains six key goals that must be addressed by the wider industry.
Stabilise and then increase the timber resource in England.
Exceed the Government’s statutory target for tree and woodland cover.
Increase the use and lifespan of English wood.
Create a predictable and consistent investment environment.
Present a consistent and positive message on productive woodlands.
Develop a skilled workforce.
New target set. Industry Leadership Group to be created
A new statutory target of at least 16.5 per cent woodland cover in the UK by 2050 has been set.
Next, the UK Government plan to create an Industry Leadership Group board to deliver the Strategy and monitor progress.
Richard Stanford, Chief Executive of Forestry Commission, said the Strategy needed to be accompanied by a strong focus on timber security, at a time when countries exporting wood to the UK were losing their own timber resource through pests and diseases [Germany] and wildfires [Canada]. “We have been incentivising slow-growing broadleaves over fast-growing conifers…and need to look at the evidence [that fast-growing conifers are needed for timber security],” he said. “Let’s make evidence-based decisions and let’s do it at pace.”
Mr Stanford said the forestry sector had to “stop asking for permission and deliver solutions”. He added: “We know what needs to be done.” He urged delegates to take the arguments beyond the room: “It’s about behavioural change; we need to stop talking to ourselves.”