How Many Seats on the Independent Panel?

11/03/2011

in Forestry Panel, News

As previously published by SOW (24th Feb 2011 How will the Public Voice be Heard on the Independent Panel), it appeared that the panel would only have five seats. However, following numerous requests from campaign groups, individuals, and other interested parties to have a voice on the panel, the government may have realised that five seats was insufficient, given the importance and scope of the issues.

Rumour has it, there are now ten seats on the panel, plus a chairperson.

It is likely, of the ten seats, five will be chosen from forestry industries and operations (but not from the Forestry Commission) for example  CONFOR (The Confederation of Forest Industries (UK) Ltd) may be included.

The other five seats will then be reserved for experts from within public organisations, that have knowledge and experience relevant to the issues, e.g. the Ramblers Association to advise on matters relating to access and the Wildlife Trusts as experts in conservation.

Members of the panel will be chosen as experts in their field rather than as representatives of  their respective organisations. This will hopefully prevent conflict of interest between the aims of the panel and those of their organisation.

By this time next week we should know who is going to chair the panel. It appears that this has proved difficult, (as can often be the case) given the chairperson must be of sufficient standing and be truly independent. Certainly not a simple task when dealing with such a wide ranging issue…

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Imogen Radford March 12, 2011 at 11:15

this is interesting. 10 is not really better than five, especially if five of the 10 are from the private forestry industry. I’m sure Confor will definitely have a place. but how can such a panel not have somebody from the Forestry Commission?

The panel for the forestry deregulation task force might be a relevant example — that has no one from Forestry Commission either — just five members of the private foresters/country land and business association and one from the Woodland Trust.
Although someone senor from the FC attended the first meeting, and they are providing the secretariat, it seems clear that their opinion is not going to be sought.
http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-8D8EF3
I think there are some lessons here for this panel.

Reply

Nick March 12, 2011 at 11:40

Blimey, that’s interesting Imogen.

“just five members of the private foresters/country land and business association and one from the Woodland Trust.”

Er. Woodland trust. Forestry. Er. ?

Reply

Dan Cook March 12, 2011 at 11:41

What possible rationale is there for excluding the Forestry Commission?
They are the experts here, should be represented.
Why so many industry reps? How are they selected? Is industry 50% of the forest economy? Suspect tourism and public access more important.
I’m getting a horrible feeling of stitch-up.

Reply

roger March 13, 2011 at 18:24

Why should the Woodland Trust be included? They are only a private company who raise funds and then buy woods with the money. They don’t manage their woodlands, they just leave them to decay. Unmanaged woodland loses bio-diversity value. They are charlatans looking to gain some land at the public’s expense.

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Roderick Leslie March 23, 2011 at 20:12

We’re all leaping to the usual conclusion like the NGOs when the Government proposed the sale – that the Government view or, now, being on the panel equals power. We’ve seen it doesn’t – the panel is going to be a real test of these organisations. Can they rise to the challenge of the future as well as understanding what people are saying about their National Forests ? I hope they will and along with SOW will be doing everything I can to help them get it right – but most definately not on the basis that they have all the power. And I hope there’ll be some bonuses along the way – like Woodland Trust and National Trust reviewing their approach to woodland management, bringing ancient woods that have been shaped by generations of interaction between man and nature back into sympathetic management & helping save some of most beautiful and threatened wildlife like Nightingale, Dormous and Heath Fritillary.

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