Green trees for green growth

13 October 2017

The inclusion of forestry and timber in the UK Government's Clean Growth Strategy could be a 'game changer' for the sector, according to the Chief Executive of Confor.

Stuart Goodall welcomed the fact the document links an 11 million tree planting target to green, clean growth in rural communities and using more UK timber in construction.

The document commits to "establish a new network of forests in England including new woodland on farmland, and fund larger-scale woodland and forest creation, in support of our commitment to plant 11 million trees, and increase the amount of UK timber used in construction".

Mr Goodall said: "I am delighted to see the wider benefits of modern productive forestry recognised. Confor has campaigned over many years for enhanced tree planting and stresses that it can help us towards a truly sustainable future by delivering for our economy, environment and communities.

"This document puts productive forestry at the heart of these discussions and links it to other policy objectives, such as meeting climate change targets and promoting rural employment. It really could be a game changer for the sector."

Mr Goodall welcomed the emphasis on support for large-scale forest and woodland creation - and for more tree planting on farms.

"Planting large forests with a significant percentage of productive trees can make a real difference for the economy and environment. There have been blockages and complexities in the system to approve tree planting. but I welcome the UK Government's renewed ambition to resolve these challenges. Confor understands from members where those challenges lie and we will continue to work with ministers and officials to overcome them and deliver new planting."

On farm forestry, Mr Goodall said: "Farmers can benefit from tree planting on part of their land and it need not reduce livestock numbers. It can deliver shelter for animals, and add an income stream in the longer term".

Mr Goodall said that the greater use of home-grown wood could also help to decarbonise construction as wood both locks up carbon, but also requires little energy to produce. “We need to think about planting trees not just to lock up carbon, but also to produce the everyday products that we all need and to create employment. The UK is the second largest net importer of wood after China, in the world."