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ConFor’s cautious welcome to the ETWF delivery plan

23 December 2008

ConFor’s cautious welcome to the ETWF delivery plan

The England forestry strategy delivery plan was launched on 15th December. It prompts mixed emotions:
ConFor’s chief executive, Stuart Goodall, said, “It is good to see that the first action listed in the plan is a review of regulation, though we should be cautious in our welcome as it has been made clear before that there is no hierarchy intended in the document. We must hope that this is true as the section on business and markets comes last, even though ‘stakeholders’ across the spectrum asked that it be listed first at the Forestry Commission’s own consultation event earlier this year. Clearly, order is not a priority as the first sentence in this section states ‘promoting economic growth while reducing our carbon footprint is at the top of the Government’s agenda’. Someone has perhaps accidentally turned the agenda upside down. “The delivery plan contains a wide range of proposed actions and every interest group will find something in it that appeals to them. However, that in itself sets up the challenge, as a number of the objectives are potentially opposing or conflicting. For example, the continued commitment to the ‘removal’ of woodlands and forests gives real concern, and will be difficult to reconcile against the aim of promoting forest businesses. We hope there is shared ground on the promotion of active, sustainable management of hardwoods and the businesses that rely on them, but the apparent low value placed on softwood woodland in public policy generally, is endlessly frustrating. Conifers appear to be considered a soft target for single-purpose campaigns. In taking forward the plan, we are looking for stronger recognition that all types of sustainably managed woodland and forests are important in England, and that we should all aim for an increase in woodland cover, including new productive softwoods.”
ConFor’s England manager, Caroline Harrison, added, “Local and regional delivery will be critical to the success of the strategy and the delivery plan includes some positive opportunities for the private sector”.