Environment Secretary responds to ICF Executive Director

Following the launch of the England Trees Action Plan, Shireen Chambers MBE FICFor wrote to George Eustice MP to emphasise the critical role trees and wood products will play in addressing the dual climate and nature crises.

On 22 June we received the following reply. It is great to hear that the Institute is a crucial partner in Defra’s work and we look forward to continuing our positive relationship with them to support the ambitions of the England Trees Action Plan, particularly the skills agenda.


22 June 2021

Dear Shireen

Thank you for your letter of 20 May about the launch of the England Trees Action Plan.

I would like to acknowledge the concerns you raise and note that it was not intentional to omit any element of forestry from the nature moment. As you are aware, trees and woodlands provide an array of benefits for nature and climate. The G7 Summit, Climate COP26 and Biodiversity COP25 this year all will help to showcase the important role trees play for both climate and nature. The moment was an opportunity to showcase the wide range of actions being undertaken for nature by the Government, the public and industry.

I can assure you that I and other Ministers are fully aware and supportive of the need to grow our domestic timber resource and we are keen to see many more multi-purpose woodlands planted which will deliver on a variety of objectives, including timber production. We will continue our current approach of securing as many benefits as possible by predominantly funding the establishment of native broadleaf woodlands at a large scale, but also by supporting well designed and managed majority conifer and mixed woodlands. It is our ambition that all woodlands in England, whether broadleaf or conifer, managed for commercial or amenity value, will improve the environment through proper design and management in line with UK Forestry Standards.

For example, our new England Woodland Creation Offer will support productive woodland planting where that meets a land manager’s objectives. This major new woodland creation grant will create over 10,000 hectares of new woodland over the lifetime of the grant. The grant will provide both greater financial incentives to plant and maintain trees and support the creation of a range of woodland types and sizes.

As highlighted in a speech by Sir William Worsley at the nature moment launch, we are keen to encourage a wide range of woodland types. As he noted, ‘we will use our unparalleled expertise to promote a modern approach to forestry that delivers for wildlife, climate and people’. We will promote this through our communications, for example by highlighting how modern productive forests can achieve commercial returns whilst also providing benefits for nature and wildlife. We will work closely with the sector to collaborate on such marketing materials.

The Institute of Chartered Foresters and other stakeholders are crucial partners in our work to promote trees and forestry. Defra officials will therefore continue to collaborate with ICF and other organisations on policy development to deliver our England Trees Action Plan, particularly on the development of the skilled workforce we need, as well as on the promotion of and engagement with forestry as a business and a job opportunity to both the public and landowners.


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