Wildlife and Countryside Link (Link) submitted its response to the Independent Panel on Forestry’s Call for Views in July 2011, emphasising the need for strategic planning and integrated management of woodlands to ensure they support improved public access and enjoyment, a sustainable woodland resource and enhanced habitat and biodiversity.
The group state priorities for English forestry policy should include the protection of all native woodland with semi-natural characteristics and restoration of native woodland on ancient woodland sites currently covered with plantation forests (PAWS), as well as the restoration of open habitats through the removal of inappropriate conifer plantations. They also emphasise the need for an increase in appropriate management using evidence-based approaches tailored to the specific characteristics and management objectives of different woodlands. Sustainable woodland expansion, using the principle of “the right tree in the right place”, should be used where appropriate, particularly where it can provide a buffer for ancient woodlands or improve woodlands’ resilience to climate change. Maintaining and enhancing public access for leisure and recreation should also be a priority, as well as improved support for research and information gathering to allow better understanding of the state of England’s woodlands. Link also state that public ownership will continue to be an important element in the ownership mix for forests and woodlands.
The full response can be found here