Confor reaction to Agriculture Bill
13 September 2018
Confor has pledged to "re-double its efforts" to ensure forestry has a strong voice in the design and delivery of rural policy and funding after Brexit.
Stuart Goodall, Confor's Chief Executive, was speaking after the publication of the Agriculture Bill by Environment Secretary Michael Gove, detailing plans for a transition out of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) after Brexit.
Mr Goodall said: “I agree with Michael Gove that the introduction of the Agriculture Bill is an historic moment. Confor has supported his championing of rewarding public goods and encouraging diversified land use because forestry has a big part to play.
"Confor has highlighted the very significant opportunities for forestry to contribute to green, vibrant rural communities by delivering the public goods identified in the Bill - especially ‘mitigating or adapting to climate change’.
"The Government’s own advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, recently identified forestry as a 'simple low cost option' to move towards its climate change targets - yet the Agriculture Bill does not take the steps towards a broader land use policy that would start to join up a range of policy initiatives more effectively."
He continued: "CAP has been a major obstacle to the expansion of forestry across the UK and has often set farmers against foresters when the two groups should be working together. This has been difficult to achieve when policy and delivery mechanisms exclude forestry and farmers are penalised when planting trees.
"Michael Gove has very clearly highlighted the opportunity to protect our environment, leave the countryside in a cleaner, greener and healthier state for future generations, but that will mean looking beyond farmers and agriculture and including the forestry sector properly in designing new mechanisms.'
Mr Goodall said Confor would continue to play an active role in the design of the new Environmental Land Management system to ensure it considered all forms of land use and management.
He concluded: "We will also continue our constructive discussions with the UK Government and politicians. We cannot allow the opportunity for forestry to contribute to be missed and this will happen unless the forestry sector, and others, are given a stronger voice and role in future policy development and delivery. Confor will re-double its efforts to ensure this is the case, working with members and all stakeholders to deliver the best future land use mix for our rural areas."