Geraint Davies MP suggested that too much hardwood was being burned and that it needed to be used for high-value products. Tom Barnes agreed, but said that the problem was that hardwood forests had generally not been well-managed and that the quality of timber was often only suitable for firewood. Better seed quality and better management, including improved squirrel control, was needed to deliver better products from hardwoods, he insisted - and there were lessons to learn from how France managed its oak forests.
Lord Carrington, a Vice-Chair of the APPG, picked up on Baroness Young's point that incentives were needed to bring productive hardwoods to the market. "There is no sign of financial resources. I have been maintaining and growing hardwoods in the south of England for 50 years but never made a penny out of it. How are you ever going to attract people to grow and maintain woodland without putting in financial incentives?"
Baroness Young said the time was right for the Government to invest, to show that "public money for public good" meant something, in terms of supporting woodlands that delivered for carbon and biodiversity as well as productive timber.
Stuart Goodall said the England Tree Action Plan, due to be published at the end of May, could map the way to show how this support could be provided to deliver multiple benefits.
Ben Lake MP, Chair of the APPG, said there was a busy time ahead - with the England Tree Action Plan, annual new planting statistics due to be published and the impact of the election results in Scotland and Wales on the industry.