Ministers ‘must introduce new forestry bill’
Legislation on the future of the public forests is still needed, according to the Woodland Trust.
The House of Lords is debating the Infrastructure Bill today, and the Government has given repeated assurances it has no intention of transferring or selling any part of the Public Forest Estate (PFE).
The Trust said while it is reassured by reassurances to that effect from the minister and in the form of a “strong” written ministerial statement today, “a specific Forestry Bill to settle the future of the PFE would clear up the confusion on this issue – a promise Government made but has still not delivered”.
Woodland TrustHead of Government Affairs, said:
“It’s important to remember that the Infrastructure Bill raises a whole series of issues that go beyond possible risks to the Public Forest Estate. Identifying hidden pitfalls where the Bill could have a wider impact on the natural environment is where we will now be concentrating our efforts.”
Yesterday’s announcement by environment secretary Liz Truss of a new National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) has been welcomed by the Trust, but it believes the decline in bees and other pollinators is just one indicator of a much wider underlying problem that must not be ignored.
Director of Conservation, said:
“The NPS is an essential first step to tackle a very serious issue, but it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture here. A whole range of habitats and species contribute to a healthy environment, and these wider on-going losses must also be addressed.
“A diverse and well-connected landscape of varying habitat and structure is vital to allow species to flourish and to support the much needed natural services that we are losing – such as pollination.
“We are working with farmers and landowners to incorporate trees, hedgerows and shelterbelts into their holdings, and to manage existing woodland, thanks to growing evidence that careful use and siting of trees can improve the productivity and value of farmland, as well as improve the environment as a whole.”
Trustsaid its free tree packs to schools and community groups, which will deliver four million saplings over the next four years, will help support pollinators by creating a more varied and resilient landscape that can better stand up to threats such as disease, development and climate change.