Friends of Thetford Forest was one of a small number of 'campaigning organisations' invited to an hours meeting with Lord Taylor of Holbeach in London on Monday 2nd July - two days ahead of the publication of the Independent Panel's Final Report.
Those attending were each asked to describe our 'particular forest' and our aspirations for the report's findings. We were able to make our key campaign points:
FoTF was also able to to emphasise the Forestry Commission's essential role in promoting good forestry and woodland management, climate mitigation and research into tree diseases. Lord Taylor could not, of course, pre-empt the report but he spoke very positively about the long term nature of growing trees and that he therefore considered forestry as 'long term' too and not as an industry that should be subject to short-term policy. He acknowledged the importance of both commercial and public forestry; the economic sustainability of forests and the community connection with the Public Forest Estate, giving FoTF an opportunity to say that it would like to see a voluntary group representative on F.C's regional and national committees/panels.
Also present was Ian Barratt, DEFRA advisor to Lord Taylor on forestry policy. Prior to the meeting with Lord Taylor, we had a short meeting with Baroness Royall who supports the retention of the Public Forest Estate. It was a privilege to meet Lord Taylor and have an open exchange of views. He ended by stating that he would like further meetings in the months between now and January and that he is keen to make visits to learn more about the forests.
Underlying the strength and unity of campaigns across the country the other groups represented at the meeting were: