UK Forestry Panel

The UK government has announced the formation of an independent panel of forestry experts as part of the planned review of forestry policy in England, reports the Woodland Trust. The Trust’s Chief Executive Sue Holden has a seat on the panel, from where she can participate in and observe the panel’s activities.

UK Forest for forestry panelThe Woodland Trust is challenging both the panel and the government to a six point test for effectiveness and accountability. The six points are basically good management practices, and are measures of success that should be applied to all environmental panels. Here are the six points:

1. The panel should build on the numerous reviews on aspects of forestry policy undertaken over the past 10 years and not attempt to reinvent the wheel;

2. The panel should be bold and decisive in its recommendations and set an agenda for change, not one based on the status quo;

3. The panel should focus particularly its attention on the areas where public passions and concerns were raised during the recently abandoned public consultation, such as access and the protection and restoration of ancient woods;

4. Government should provide an in-depth response to the panel’s recommendations, indicating specifically which ones it will adopt and the reasons for those it rejects;

5. Government should not use the panel as a reason to delay current commitments to action (e.g. Woodland Carbon Task Force);

6. Other government departments such as DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) must buy into the recommendations and DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) will need to be seen to be working to achieve this.

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Alison Wheatley

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