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03/11/2020

Forestry strategy for Great Britain is published

Words: Laura Edgar
Forest / iStock-668923534

The Welsh Government, supported by the Scottish and UK governments, has issued a new science and innovation strategy for the long-term future of forestry in Great Britain.

The Welsh Government said the strategy acknowledges the role the sector has in reversing the decline in biodiversity, tackling the climate crisis and supporting a green recovery from Covid-19.

Lesley Griffiths, Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister at the Welsh Government, said: “Forestry in the UK is a vital sector, generating enormous environmental and economic benefits. As we seek to increase woodland creation to tackle the climate emergency and work towards a green recovery from Covid-19, a strategic approach to forestry research is more important than ever.

“Our forests face a number of challenges from pests and diseases, and in adapting to climate change. That is why it is so important to have robust and innovative science to guide decisions and policy. This new strategy will play a key role in making sure our forests are resilient and healthy and ensuring the sector has a sustainable future.”

Science and Innovation Strategy for Forestry in Great Britain takes into account strategies already in place in each country, including Scotland Forestry Strategy 2019-2029, a 50-year “vision” for Scotland’s forests and woodlands that provides a 10-year framework for action; the England Tree Strategy, which will set out policies to expand tree cover, support woodland management and increase public engagement with trees and woodlands; and the Woodlands for Wales strategy sets out the forestry policy and strategic direction for forestry for the next 50 years, supported by an action plan to be updated every five years.

Research programmes as part of the strategy will reflect these challenges, and will support the industry and the creation of jobs as well as maximise the contribution woodlands and forestry can make to improve the natural environment. It also outlines how research will be monitored and communicated.

The seven shared priorities identified include research on the following themes:

  • Sustainable forest management in light of environmental change.
  • Markets for forest products and services.
  • Societal benefits from trees, woods and forests.
  • Resource assessment and sector monitoring.
  • Achieving multiple ecosystem benefits.
  • Woodland creation and expansion.
  • Tree health and biosecurity.

UK Government forestry minister Lord Goldsmith commented: “Growing and protecting the UK’s forests is an integral part of our green recovery from coronavirus and fight against climate change, which is why we’re committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.

“Using the brilliant expertise of Forest Research and other research providers, this new strategy gives us the framework needed to ensure we maintain sustainable and resilient woodlands for decades to come.”

Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing added: “This strategy is important – the research emanating from it will support our mission to promote sustainable forest management alongside expanding our woodland cover to help meet the current climate emergency.  

“Sound research and science is also key to helping the forestry sector respond and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, by supporting economic growth and green jobs.”

According to the foreword, forestry in the UK is a vital sector, with forestry and primary wood processing generating £2.5 billion gross value added (GVA) a year, from a woodland area of 3.2 million hectares.

Science and Innovation Strategy for Forestry in Great Britain can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Image credit | iStock

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