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People, nature and business look set to benefit from report to Government


The Independent Panel on Forestry, set-up to advise the Government on the future of England’s forests and woods, has today (8 December) published its progress report.

The Panel says it is working towards recommendations that will increase the benefits generated from all forests in England, including to the people that enjoy them, to nature and to the businesses that rely on them. The recommendations will be made in their final report to Government in spring 2012.

The Right Reverend James Jones Bishop of Liverpool who chairs the Panel said: “Although our Panel was born out of fierce debate over the future of the public forest estate, what has become apparent through our work so far is that we must look at the future of all woods and forests, not just the one fifth managed by the Forestry Commission.

“Through the 42,000 responses to our call for views, the public expressed their passion for forests as a place of recreation, to connect with nature and as a vital source of resources. These responses, along with the many people we have met on our visits, have helped inform our report.”

The report notes that while looking over a landscape of different types and ages of trees in the Forest of Dean, the Panel were told this was “a political landscape” shaped by the national politics at the time of planting. The Panel has identified in their progress report that future forestry policy should reflect the economic and ecological timescales of woodlands.

Responding directly to one of the issues it was asked to address, the progress report states that the Panel sees a continuing role for a national public forest estate in England. The Panel sets out a broad vision of providing a wider range of benefits to more people, and will explore the role of not just the public forest estate but all woodlands, including those in other ownerships, in delivering more for society, the environment and the economy.

In speaking about the Panel’s work over the next few months Bishop James said: “For now all of our work, especially in relation to the woods and forests outside of the public forest estate, needs further development in the run up to making recommendations in our final report next year. But as ever the Panel are dedicated to further exploring these emerging themes.”

The Panel’s progress report will be available to view in full on their website at

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