Forestry

Page updated:

Major revision January 1990

Background

FR100 Over the largest part of the earth, forests are the natural climax vegetation. They are central to the ecosphere that provides us with fresh air, clean water, fertile soil and climatic stability. Any forestry policy must take account of this. Forestry has the greatest potential for feeding humans and animals and providing a renewable fuel as well as timber.

FR101 Total world cover at present stands at around 30% and is declining by an area around the size of Wales every year, because of human pressure. Action is needed to help to reverse this trend.

FR102 Before 2,500 BC, the United Kingdom was almost entirely covered with forest, mainly hardwood. Since these times, through agriculture and the industrial revolution, this was reduced to around 5% by the beginning of this century. It has now increased slightly, to 8%, largely by the direct or indirect activity of the Forestry Commission. This planting, since the First World War, however, has mostly been monoculture of exotic conifers. However, we are still importing 90% of our forestry products, valued at £4,500 million per year, our second largest import.

Objectives

FR200 (A) To be more self-sufficient, by maximising the quantity and quality of all forest products, in such a manner as to cause minimal disturbance to the ecological balance. It is recognised that products include timber, recreational facilities, amenity value, conservation and the control of erosion, drought and flooding.

FR201 (B) To move all existing woodlands towards an ecologically balanced and natural state. The planting of diverse woodlands with native species would move away from the current practice of monoculture. Ancient woodland would be given special protection. (see also CY570-572)

FR202 (C) To increase the area of forest in the UK from its present level of about 8% to 25% of the total land area. This would bring us into line with other European countries.

FR203 (D) To maximise the involvement and employment of the local community as creators and users of local forests and their products.

Policies

To Obtain (A)

FR300 The management systems encouraged below should produce high quality products in as large a quantity as possible without unbalancing ecosystems.

FR301 Encourage research into the more efficient use of timber in order to reduce demand.

FR302 Consider introducing selected restrictions on the import of timber to reduce pressure on the world timber resources, particularly from the tropical rainforests.

FR304 Local coordinator (see FR330 and FR340, below) should keep growers in contact with markets so that all products are fully utilised.

FR305 Encourage and develop facilities for recreation and conservation. The creation of woodland for nature reserves, amenity, agricultural shelter etc. would also be encouraged.

 

To Obtain (B)

FR310 Encourage, by grant or other financial aid, the planting of native species, especially as second generation crops. Similarly, encourage ecologically balanced and rich management systems, such as mixed species crops, selection forests (as opposed to clear felling systems), coppice with standards etc. The Forestry Commission to follow suit. (see CY542)

FR311 Restrict the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers. At the same time, research into the biological control of pests should be promoted (e.g. at present the grey squirrel makes it very difficult to establish hardwoods in some areas).

FR312 Encourage research both locally and nationally into:

a)the cheaper methods of establishing and managing hardwoods;

b)the effects of afforestation on local ecosystems;

c)the effects of different types of management on the local ecosystems.

 

To Obtain (C)

FR320 Encourage new planting with higher grant aid and other financial incentives. Make forestry more competitive with farming and shooting. Agriculture and forestry should be more closely integrated.

FR321 Increase the Forestry Commission planting budget with special reference to overall policy.

FR322 Make National and Local Government land available for planting where possible, especially urban and derelict land reclamation.

FR323 The local coordinator (see FR330 and FR340) should advise growers and potential growers of incentives, labour and markets available.

 

To Obtain (D)

FR330 Encourage the creation of community forests, owned, managed and used by the local population, thereby enhancing local employment opportunities. Community forests are very common on the Continent, being managed by a local committee, community association or local authority. The local coordinator could seek the involvement of schools, local clubs and institutes, voluntary groups, naturalists etc. and publicise the work being done.

FR331 Encourage the creation of local marketing cooperatives and tree banks for small woodland growers.

FR332 Encourage development of small efficient sawmills that can use local timber to supply local needs.

FR333 Local people, through their local coordinator and planning authority, should be given the power to prevent unsound forestry and ecologically damaging practices in local woodlands, even if privately owned.

General Policies

FR340 Create the post of Local Forestry Coordinator, who would operate at county or district level and would probably be a locally elected person or an employee of the local authority. It would be the duty of the coordinator to liaise with all interested groups at a local level and keep growers and consumers aware of each other's needs.

FR341 Where possible, use and adapt existing organisations and structures rather than create new ones.

FR342 Encourage changes with incentives rather than restrictions. This is easier to do at a local, rather than national, level.