Confor and members feature in Farming Today's forestry week

16 August 2021

Confor and its members featured heavily in Radio 4's Farming Today series on forestry, which ran throughout last week. 

The series of features concluded with presenter Caz Graham visiting Lazonby Estate, near Penrith in Cumbria (Listen 00,30-05,16) - and acknowledging that forestry could be managed for timber production, wildlife and conservation, and public access and recreation at the same time. 

Forestry consultant and Confor member Jackie Dunne, of Dunnewoods, described the multiple benefits of the forest - including how red squirrels were thriving in conifer woods on the estate.  

"It was very heartening to hear that 'aha' moment where Caz Graham realised that modern forestry is not about either-or choices," said Confor CEO Stuart Goodall. "It can deliver for the environment and the economy, and for people and wildlife, simultaneously.  Confor has shared that message for some time and will continue to do so." 

Mr Goodall was also interviewed, explaining why the UK Government must take more responsibility to satisfy the soaring demand for timber - and why current policy means it will be hard to hit the 30,000-hectare UK-wide planting target by 2024-5. He said: "Demand for wood is at record levels and we are really focused on future supplies. Unfortunately, there is very little planting taking place outside Scotland to provide those future supplies of wood." (Listen here - 0,26-3,48) 

Jamie Dewhurst of Confor member J&A Growers, near Warwick, discussed the same challenge from the nursery perspective, saying: "I question whether we will hit the [tree planting] targets by 2024; we could hit it but we have to gamble on the market being there." (Listen here: 3,34-7,25). 

Ian Robinson from Confor member Scottish Woodlands talked about the danger of forest fires, after a serious blaze in Kyloe Woods, Northumberland. He said: "Woodlands are vulnerable to fire. They are there for everyone to enjoy, but everyone has a responsibility to protect them." Listen here (0,34-4,25). 

The series also visited a demonstrator farm north of Glasgow to show the potential of planting trees to diversify a farm business. Matthew Imrie explained how he persuaded his parents that they should devote part of their land to forestry, saying: "I saw there was lots of potential - environmentally, financially and socially - to plant trees on the farm." Listen here 0,40-4,35 

Stuart Goodall said: "It was heartening to see modern forestry treated in such a wide-ranging way, and to get messages out there about economic, environmental and social benefits. I'd like to thank all the Confor members involved and all the BBC staff who engaged in a very professional and friendly way at all times."  

Confor also continues to push positive forestry messages through regular articles in The Scotsman and Press & Journal. Stuart Goodall had this article published recently in The Scotsman about the importance of cross-border cooperation in the forestry and wood industry.