What a meeting! I left feeling energized, inspired and hopeful. An historic event that punctuates a pivotal moment in our forests history! The future of our forests and trees has changed forever…
There were over 1oo people at the event including Pam Warhurst, Caroline Spelman, Lord Taylor, members of the Forestry Panel (John Varley, Sir Harry Studholme, Stephanie Hillbourne, Shireen Chambers, Fiona Reynolds and Stuart Goodall) and of course Bishop James Jones. The atmosphere in the room was electric, with the general buzz being support for the panel’s final recommendations to Government.
A strong theme throughout the meeting was the spiritual aspect of trees and of our woods and forests. It came as a wonderful surprise to hear a senior politician, Caroline Spelman stand up in front of us all and say that last year she ‘got it’ when she witnessed the overwhelming outpouring of love for our forests and our deep desire to see our publicly owned forests kept in public ownership. Now we need to find a way to get the treasury department and George Osbourne to see the value of trees and forests beyond the balance sheet.
There was a lot of talk about the ‘triple bottom line’; people, nature, economy. We heard over and over again about the importance of eco economics, natural capital and eco system services. Alarm bells ring at putting a price on nature but I do understand that it might be the only way to get the treasury onside. A fine and precarious line to walk.
It costs £20 million a year for the Forestry Commission (FC) to run the Public Forest Estate (PFE). However, the triple bottom line benefits have been valued at over £400 million. How much longer can that be ignored?
I admit to being overwhelmed at times during the meeting. I’d find myself looking around the room at some of the most influential and expert people in the forest world, all sitting together talking. I kept getting lost in thinking about the infinite potential of having these incredible cross-sector organisations, businesses, forest users & government not only talking but agreeing that they would use the Forestry Panel’s final report as a foundation to CONTINUE talking to one another to ensure the best future for our forests!
This is the beginning of a joined up and collective long term view to forest and tree management. Historic!
On that point, Caroline Spelman declared that they are going to re-establish the National Forest Stakeholder Forum. This will include meetings, events and social media. Watch this space!
The Forestry Panel and many others in the room talked a lot about how we need to create a Woodland Culture in England. Last year England showed itself to be a Woodland Culture at it’s core. It was the people of England, with our forests in our hearts, that cleared the way for the Forestry Panel to exist and for this momentous event to happen. England’s Woodland Culture beats within us and with every single person in that meeting working together I have no doubt our Woodland Culture can be re-born.