Members urged to attend APPGF on plant health

13 January 2017

Tree pests and diseases is the headline topic for discussion at the January meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF).

On Tuesday, January 24th, the group will hear from both Kat Deeks, Biosecurity Officer with Forestry Commission England and John Wilding, Head of Forestry and Environmental Economy at Clinton Devon Estates. 

Andrew Heald, Technical Director for Confor, said: "Plant health is a massive issue for our members and we look forward to hearing perspectives from the public and private sector. Like all other policy areas, plant health throws up a complex web of challenges and opportunities following Brexit. 

"In our discussion paper, A Thriving Forestry and Timber Sector in a Post-Brexit World, plant health was one of the five key areas and we posed the question, How can we strengthen plant health and protection without restricting domestic trade?" 

"The recommendations in that paper should provide an excellent opportunity to debate the issues - and we look forward to seeing Confor members there." 

The recommendations were:

* Phytosanitary certificates should be required for all imported material: Better regulation of all plant material (horticultural products as well as forestry) would limit the chance of new exotic pests and disease entering the UK.

* Restrict importation of firewood: This would reduce the risk of pest and disease entering the UK and increase demand for low-grade fuel wood from the UK’s under-managed woods.

Achieve consistent levels of new planting to enable nurseries to plan effectively: Short-term, inconsistent grant schemes lead to yo-yoing in planting. Long-term, consistent support for woodland creation enables nurseries to better plan production, reducing both reliance on imported plants and disease risk. 

The APPGF will also hear about the Westminster Hall debate on tree planting in December and the ongoing inquiry into forestry in England being held by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee. 

Both Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall and APPGF Chair, Chris Davies MP, will provide updates. 

Stuart Goodall said: "We have covered big issues like forestry and flooding, Brexit and how to drive up new planting at the APPGF and the meetings continue to attract a good range of stakeholders from across the forestry sector. Confor will continue to provide the space for these important debates and strong leadership to the forestry and timber sector. We will also continue to play an important part in shaping wider discussions about future rural policy and funding." 

* If you would like to attend the APPGF, which will run from 1130am-1pm on January 24th, please email