PRESS RELEASE FROM THE FORESTRY PANEL –
The Independent Panel on Forestry is today, Thursday 19th May, inviting everyone interested in forests and woods to come forward, share their views and join in a public conversation. Following its second meeting, the Panel is also pleased to announce its initial visits: to the Forest of Dean, Northumberland and Kent.
In order to advise government on the future of forests and woods in England, the Panel wants to understand the widest range of views, interests and expertise. So whatever your connection; whether you are a dog walker, environmentalist, forestry worker, wood processor, commercial forest owner, cyclist or family who love weekends at the forest – now is your first opportunity to get involved, share your views and make your voice heard to the panel. You can find out more about the questions the Panel is posing and how to feed in your views at www.defra.gov.uk/rural/forestry/panel. The call for views is just one of the ways the Panel will draw in ideas on today’s forests and woods, and what our future vision for them should be.
The Right Reverend James Jones Bishop of Liverpool, who chairs the Panel, recently kick- started this conversation when he met with a broad range of outdoor enthusiasts. The groups put forward their hopes and concerns about public access to forests and woodlands in England and presented the Bishop with a joint statement calling on the Panel to ensure public access is an important part of its discussions.
Bishop James said: “There is no doubt that people care deeply about the forests and their future. This subject has touched a nerve with the public and part of the Panel’s work is to understand why. I therefore urge you to use this opportunity and share your thoughts, ideas and feelings with us. It is crucial that we listen to everyone to whom this matters because ultimately this is a conversation that should involve us all.”
The Panel is also pleased to announce visits to the following locations:
• The Forest of Dean – Monday 13th June
• Northumberland (including Kielder) – Tuesday 26th July
• Woods in Kent – Friday 16th September
This is just one of a range of ways to build up a good picture of the varied nature of forests and woods, and the role they play in communities and the economy. The Panel is keen to build a thorough picture of the vast array of interests and uses within the country’s forests and woodlands, to inform its final report in April 2012.
The Forest of Dean is a place with a tremendous natural and cultural heritage and where local people have been active on forest issues for many years. Going to Northumberland will an example of upland forests and to follow how timber is turned into products we all use. A visit to Kent will help the Panel explore how smaller woods, with a mix of different trees, contribute to the wider natural landscape.
The Panel’s decision on where to start its visits was a tough one, given the diversity of woods in England, the multiple benefits they provide and the special place each of them have in the heart of local communities.