The Independent Panel on Forestry (IPF) Interim Report
The Independent Panel advising the Government on Forestry Policy in England has published its Final Report.
On 8th December 2011 the Independent Panel on Forestry (IPF) advising the Government on Forestry Policy in England published its Interim Report.
The view of Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF) on the report was one of cautious optimism. We were encouraged that the Panel:
- acknowledges that "the Public Forest Estate often sets a gold standard in recreational access"
- recognises that the PFE is "very good value for money"
- recognises that the PFE delivers benefits for people, the environment and the economy - the so-called "triple bottom line".
- accept that ownership of the PFE should be made more secure for the future.
- believe that forestry policy should be in harmony with the lifetime of trees rather than short term political cycles.
- As a community group, we welcome the idea of "harnessing the high degree of public interest in its (the PFEs) management and future direction"
However, we did have some concerns:
- the Panel is "looking at whether the current set up for the Forestry Commission is the right one" - FC has just undergone a massive re-structuring by order of DEFRA. FoTF attempts to halt this re-structuring until the Panel's final report were dismissed.
- the Panel is exploring "how much habitat restoration and improvement should be taking place on the PFE and where, within the context of the wider landscape". FoTF acknowledges that the PFE delivers 'multi-purpose forestry' and that it needs its commercial timber operations to provide a financially viable future. Any reduction of land for growing trees has an impact on this and conservation organisations must be made aware that a modern working forest provides the structure to support the Panel's vision of a "triple bottom line" - i.e benefits for people, nature and the economy. It should be noted that it was the Forestry Commission who instigated and supported the Breckland Biodiversity Audit and who actively carry out research, with others, into conservation management of the area.
The Panel's full interim report can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/forestrypanel/reports/progress-report-december-2011
And finally - a huge THANK YOU to you all! The Panel's own report shows that replies from East Anglia were among the highest in number from any region, despite being an area of relatively low population density. This proves your voice is being heard and can make a difference so let's keep doing so!