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Independent Panel on Forestry – Government Response

The Independent Panel on Forestry’s report was published on 4 July 2012. Ministers welcomed the report, confirmed that the public forest estate would remain in public ownership and committed to publishing a formal response in January 2013.

How can I get involved?

We want to listen to everyone’s views and people are encouraged to give their views and can contact us at forestryresponse@defra.gsi.gov.uk. We have received many e-mails and submissions over the summer and autumn, all of these are being considered carefully in preparing the response.

We have also asked questions based around themes in the Panel’s report. We’ve had a great response to our first batch of questions, launched in late August.

  • Over 94% of the 1,400 people who responded said that they’d like more woodland created in or near to their local community.
  • Over 50% said more accessible woodland close to where they live would encourage them to visit local woodland more.
  • One third of respondents said that they always buy English wood products out of choice.

The second batch of questions has now closed and we are assessing the responses. We will be publishing a more detailed analysis of both surveys shortly. Again, these answers will be invaluable in preparing the response.

Stakeholder Engagement

Defra and the Forestry Commission are working closely with external stakeholders in preparing the response. Over the summer officials  have met with a wide range of stakeholder groups to listen to their views on the Panel’s report and discuss how Government is formulating its response. This has enabled many people to contribute positively to our thinking.

National Forestry Stakeholder Forum

On 10 July, Caroline Spelman announced that there would be a National Forestry Stakeholder Forum to give Ministers feedback and advice on forestry policy and direction of travel. The Forum’s first meeting, which took place on 31 October, involved over 40 organisations, including key partners from the forestry industry, the civil society sector and local community groups.

Delegates were invited to identify their key priorities through discussing the following questions in small groups:

  • For each element of the triple bottom line (i.e. good for people, the environment and the economy), what is best done by Government, by others (including your organisation) and what is best done by both?
  • For each element of the triple bottom line (i.e. good for people, the environment and the economy), what is the highest priority now, over the next two years and in the long term?
  • What will you be able to do to help deliver these priorities?

We are now analysing the responses to these questions and more detail on the outcomes will be available soon.

The Forum was a positive occasion, providing an important opportunity for two-way communication between the Government and those representing forestry and woodlands interests. However, it does not replace other existing stakeholder groups and networks, with whom Government will continue to work.

Background

The Independent Panel on Forestry was established in March 2011 to advise on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England and on the role of the Forestry Commission in implementing policy. On 4 July 2012 the Panel published its final report.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman has welcomed this report (see Written Ministerial Statement). She has:

  • Stated that Government agrees with the Independent Panel on Forestry that the Public Forest Estate should continue to benefit from public ownership.

Agreed with the Panel that the way the Estate is cared for and managed should evolve to meet the challenges ahead of us. We need a new model that is able to draw in additional sources of finance, make best use of Government funding and a means to facilitate wider and more comprehensive community support.

Page last modified: 4 December 2012