News & Events

eNews November 2011


... once again to this latest issue of Confor's eNews.  We are pleased to welcome new members who have joined since our last issue:

Bracken Silviculture, Devon
Buxtons Ltd, Staffordshire
C J Piper & Co, Moray
Countrywide Farmers plc, Worcestershire
Craigo Farms Ltd, Angus
Gordon Woodlands Ltd, Glasgow
MAKAR Ltd, Inverness-shire
Out of the Woods, Gloucestershire
Renewable Energy Association, London
Renewable Energy Suppliers Ltd, Nottingham
Erika Brider, Northumberland
Arran Dennis, Carlisle
Miles Drury, Carlisle
Sandy Greig, EIRE
David Johnes, Cumbria
Thomas Landgon-Davies, Devon
Andrew MacLachlan, Glasgow
George Moore, Dumfries & Galloway
Cameron Ross, Dumfriesshire
Thomas Tait OBE, Aberdeenshire
Keira Tedd, Ayrshire
Andrew Whistler, Norfolk
Rory Woodward-Hay, Cumbria

Remember, the eNews is just one part of the Confor communications package.  It is circulated between issues of our industry-leading magazine Forestry and Timber News - now published six times a year.  All Confor members should receive a complimentary copy of FTN. Non-members can subscribe to eNews by sending your details to and we will add you to our mailing list.

Merger of FC Wales into a Single Environmental Body - help, please

Confor has been fighting for FC Wales to retain its independence, in the face of proposals to merge it with Environment Agency and Countryside Council Wales.

Merger will see forestry policy and delivery, as well as the public forest estate, dominated by a department focused on environmental regulation - restricting activity rather than enabling. It is also likely to lead to the break-up of the Forestry Commission and threaten key resources such as Forest Research.

Confor has led opposition, briefing Assembly Members, securing continued media coverage and challenging the weak business case developed by senior civil servants. We have also worked with other industry organisations to ensure there is a common front.

Kath has set up this petition. Please sign it and email on to your colleagues, friends and family.

Kath McNulty, Confor's Wales manager, reports:

FC Scotland reorganisation  

FC Scotland Director, Dr Bob McIntosh has been appointed to head a new Environment and Forestry department.

Confor calls for forestry regulation report to be implemented   

The Forestry Regulation Task Force, established by the minister in response to a request by Confor, delivered its final report and recommendations to government, in October.

The report, Challenging assumptions, changing perceptions, challenges government to look at the way the forestry sector is regulated and is the culmination of nine months' work gathering information, engaging with interested parties and seeking views. The Task Force makes 15 key recommendations, 26 recommendations and a further 14 recommendations to improve existing processes.

Confor puts pressure on GLA

Confor has upped its lobbying effort for forestry to be excluded from the requirement to be licensed under the Gangmasters Licensing Act. With this position supported by the Forest Regulation Task Force, Confor has now sent a recent report on the GLA to key politicians.

Confor meets ministers on renewables and new planting

Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall and chair Colin Mann participated in a series of constructive industry meetings with Scottish ministers Fergus Ewing and Stewart Stevenson, who have responsibility for energy and forestry policy, respectively, and with UK energy minister Charles Hendry who has responsibility for the Renewables Obligation.

Confor contributes to debate on England's forests

Forestry has rarely had a higher profile in England, but public debate has focused almost exclusively around the issue of ownership of the public forest estate (PFE). Websites such as the ‘Save Our Forest' site provide an interactive forum for discussion and the emergence of the ‘Our Forests' initiative provides a welcome new contribution to the debate, both beginning a process of looking at the important wider issues around forestry in England. In order to contribute to this emerging debate, Confor has now published on its website the first three of a series of papers on forestry in England.

Confor hosts Defra forestry team

Staff from across Defra's forestry team spent an informative day discussing financially sustainable forestry during visits to forests in southeast England organised at the invitation of Confor.

Update on energy policy

The Scotland and UK Governments' long gestation of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) finally seems to be coming to an end, while the refining of the Renewables Obligation (RO) continues, with banding and rates under consultation. The overwhelming focus of government policy so far, through the RO, has been on electricity generation from windfarms and carbon capture technologies, with biomass seen, by Westminster at least, as part of the large base-load electricity generation mix. With the RHI, renewable heat is now being targeted.

Confor welcomes revised UK Forestry Standard and Guidelines

The revised UK Forestry Standard and associated Forestry Guidelines have just been released after years of consultation and development.  Confor has been involved in the process from the outset and generally welcomes the revisions. The documents set out the statutory framework for forestry, along with best practice guidance.

Latest update on P ramorum:

Flight surveys have stopped for the winter, but compliance monitoring continues. The big news is the confirmed outbreak centred around Loch Dornal in Dumfries and Galloway. FC Scotland intends to designate the whole of Galloway as Zone 1, given real concern over the potential extent of the existing infection. Further sites in the vicinity are being inspected, and we can expect a changing scene.

Confor has been in liaison with FC Scotland on the response, including local controls and communication.

Note: A Sitka spruce on the site which had showed signs, has been confirmed as NOT P ramorum - seemingly, it is an algae.

FC is moving ahead with a composting trial in East Anglia: 500m3 will be heat treated for six to eight weeks, perhaps followed by full composting for another six weeks.

Authorised mills and agents are listed at:

Plant health action plan

Caroline Spelman, environment secretary, recently announced an action plan to combat the exotic pests and diseases threatening the health of Britain's trees.

People trying to bring potentially infected plants and cuttings into the UK will face more-robust enforcement, and the government is putting £7m into research on combating new or exotic tree and plant pathogens.

More disease

Fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora lateralis has been found in a Lawson cypress hedge in Plymouth. The disease is most common in western states of the US and Canada but there have also been outbreaks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Where next with conifers?

Confor needs your help - it will only take 5-10 minutes to respond.

In the light of pests and diseases, as well as climate change, James Hepburne Scott, of Alba Trees plc, is leading a Confor survey to find out members' views on species selection.  Please take time to answer four questions.

Views wanted on tree planting in Scotland  

Dr Andrew Barbour, chairman of the Woodland Expansion Advisory Group, has called for views from across Scotland on how best to take forward woodland expansion.  Confor is represented on the 18-strong group of farmers, foresters, conservation, community and land experts, which has been tasked with the job of providing Scottish ministers with advice on identifying which types of land are best for tree-planting.

Confor works on woodland expansion in Scotland

Again, Confor is asking for your help. There are just two simple questions.

As part of ongoing efforts to further the delivery of more commercial softwood planting, both as new woodland creation and at time of restock, Confor is setting up a task & finish group to assist input to the Woodland Expansion Advisory  Group (above), and also to the general promotion of industry's requirements.

Confor urges FC to support statistics

Confor has written to the Forestry Commission (FC) highlighting the important role of the FC's statistics unit and asking that it be given sufficient resource to undertake its important industry activity.

Northern Ireland Forest Service

There is change at the top for the Northern Ireland Forest Service: Malcolm Beattie is returning to head up the Forest Service as David Small finds a new post.

Lyme disease survey - please help

This is a survey of the experience of health services of people with tick-borne infections in the UK and Ireland (Eire). It has been set up by a group called LymeResearchUk and Ireland in conjunction with the charity Tick Talk Ireland and is led by independent researcher Kate Bloor. The survey is open from 14 October 2011 and will run for eight weeks.

Any questions or enquiries about using this information can be directed to

Confor Oscars - reminder  

Have you submitted your video clip for a chance of winning a cash prize?  Deadline for entries is 21 December 2011.

Funding available for wild venison developments

Are you involved, or would you like to be involved, with wild deer management? Are you involved with wild venison processing and marketing? There is funding for those in east England, but it is hoped to roll it out across England. Evidence is required, so if it is of interest to you, please complete the expression of interest form by end of November.

Nuffield scholarships

The closing date for applications for the 2012/13 Nuffield scholarships is 15 November 2011.  Jez Ralph has just completed one and says: "It is a huge opportunity to see forestry across the world and a shame that more foresters do not take advantage of it. I'm happy for anyone to contact me to discuss it."


Confor events:  

International Forestry Exhibition 2012, at Ragley Estate, Alcester, Warwickshire, on 13-15 September 2012.  Following a record-breaking first exhibitor site meeting in October, the next one is 10 November 2011.   

Other events:

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