Stuart Goodall, CEO of Confor, agreed with this sentiment and reflected on what he hopes will be seen in future as a landmark event: “A year ago the then forestry minister Trudy Harrison gave us hope that productive forestry and home-grown wood would be brought ‘in from the cold’ and be recognised as an important part of England’s forestry policy and ambitions to tackle climate change and support a strong, green rural economy. A year on, and we can see how that political leadership has created a new sense of optimism. The Wood Strategy, the actions taken by Defra and Forestry Commission to improve the tree planting process and make it inclusive are strongly welcomed.
“We now have recognition that there is a timber security challenge for the UK that is real and important.
“At the conference I set the scene for the day by expressing the passion that I have, and which is shared across the industry, for productive forestry and home-grown wood products to make a bigger contribution to tackling climate change, something that has been recognised as important by 17 countries, including the UK, at COP28 in Dubai.
“I think many people, me included, are seriously concerned that globally we will fail to hit our 2050 targets and future generations will suffer the consequences. Tree planting and greater wood use won’t, in themselves, make the difference but they can make a significant contribution.
“As we go forward from this conference, the forestry and wood-using industry needs to communicate its positive story. Many people lack trust in businesses, and the legacy of tree planting in the 20th century is in the minds of some and is picked up by those concerned by changing landscapes now, so we have to redouble our efforts to set out the ‘why’ of productive tree planting and greater wood production. Confor is working on this and I look forward to sharing our ideas in 2024.”