Forestry Commission task force to review forestry regulation


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Just in time for possible new owners the Forestry Commission task force set up to “identify ways to reduce the regulatory burden on those who seek to create and sustainably manage forests, helping to support a more competitive, profitable and commercially resilient sector which continues to play a part in economic recovery” is reviewing forestry regulation.

Does this mean there could be a relaxing of regulations for possible new owners?

These are the questions the task force has been set up to find answers to:

Where can regulations affecting forestry be implemented in a more proportionate, risk-based, targeted and efficient way?
What lessons can be learned from the approaches taken in other countries with well developed forest sectors and cultures?
Where can inspections be reduced when risks are low?
How can a more outcome-focused approach be taken: what is it that is trying to be achieved?
How can the concept and practice of ‘earned recognition’ be best applied to the sector?
How can regulators work better together?
Is the UK ‘gold-plating’ any EU legislation/directives? Can these burdens be removed?
What regulatory burdens are deterring sustainable forest management or threatening woodland owners and managers’ profitability?
How might changes to the regulatory framework attract new entrants to the sector and promote a greater interest in active and sustainable woodland management?

Read the full press release on the Forestry Commission website and leave us your views in the comments section below.

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Paul Beevers January 20, 2011 at 16:52

The Committee looks like 4.5 that will say what the government wants to hear and maybe 2.5 who will have no chance on big issues. I just hope the Woodland Trust and the Chilterns Woodland Project are not being set up and setting themselves up to be compromised by this. What worries me too is that even the Woodland Trust developed a reputation for knowing more about forestry than about biodiversity, much as I support them. Where are bodies such as RSPB, Wildlife Trust, Buglife, Grassland Trust, National Trust? Lets hope Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL) are providing strong backup.

Roderick Leslie November 3, 2011 at 10:36

I actually think theres a real possibility that the Task Force’s reccomendations might achieve the near impossible and reduce red tape whilst improving regulation !

There’s been a long running debate within FC over long term plans – FC dropped them to reduce their workload. It resulted in woods which weren’t claiming grant aid having to get felling licenses each and every time they felled – and neither FC nor anyone else had a clue what the long term future of the wood looked like. I always supported plans – as did many responsible owners and really welcome the emphasis being put on them.

The other thing I really welcome is the ‘earned recognition’ – a huge amount of FC effort goes into regulating woodland owners who are doing a great job (see the articles on the Excellence in Forestry Competition in the RFS Quarterly Journal of Forestry). What the task force proposes is that that effort be directed to the area of highest risk – and there are two key groups, new owners who want to do the right thing but aren’t very experienced and, the absolute opposite, people who want to damage woodland for their own ends – getting the trees out of the way to make it easier to get planning permission. As many new owners who’ve dealt with FC know, when it says ‘regulation’ it euqally means help and advice, including pointing owners in the direction of grants and helping them understand and plan for their woods.

The one thing many people will think rather negative are the comments on ‘European Portected Species’. This is a strange one: a burdensome addition to the regulatory regime that came from a European court judgement – and came out of the blue to both foresters & conservationists – contrary to what most foreseters believe, the NGOs hadn’t loobbied for it, didn’t welcome it and have been supportive in finding practical ways to manage what could have been a real barrier to woodland management. The Task Force’s recxcomendation that we learn more about the effects of forest management on these species (including Dormouse and Great Crested Newt) makes a lot of sense and should help even further in ensuring forestry continues to help, not damage, these important species.

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