We’re excited to introduce the first monthly policy roundup blog – bringing you updates from what the Institute has been getting involved in and what you can get involved in too.
Council approved our new policy strategy at the end of March so we can really push forward with the work we’ve been doing. Thanks to our informal policy steering group, Sam Brown MICFor, Martin Gammie MICFor, Gabriel Hemery FICFor, Syd House FICFor and Stephen Westmore MICFor, for their help leading up to the March meeting of Council.
The objectives of the strategy are:
- Giving our members a voice.
- Raising the profile of the Institute and the tree professions with policymakers and the public.
- Highlighting the contributions forestry and arboriculture can make to the challenges that public. policy seeks to solve.
The policy strategy focuses on utilising our members’ expertise and experience, including official Institute representatives and also the general membership.
Here are some highlights from our recent activities:
Partners & Consultations
- In late March, we led a meeting with Defra officials, alongside partners Confor, the RFS and the Woodland Trust to talk about Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) proposals. With Neville Elstone advising as the Institute’s representative for ELMs, we will continue to work closely with partners and keep the pressure on Defra to consult fully with the forestry sector.
- As you know from our recent blog, the ELMs consultation has been put on pause by Defra, but you can still send your thoughts to us. We’ve had a good number of replies so far and will feed them in to the Institute response.
- We provided input to a proposal by Woodland Trust Wales to increase planting of ‘hedges and edges’ on farms and we hope to work more closely with them in future.
- We joined the Environmental Policy Forum as an observer and are working with colleagues at Society for the Environment and their other licensed bodies.
- We sent a survey on the impact of COVID-19 to all our members to see what challenges they face. We’re sharing the anonymised results with government bodies to help them plan how best to support the sector and will provide an update to members soon. Thank you to everyone who responded – we had over 250 responses in less than a week.
- We closed the main membership survey with a reasonable 20% response rate. It’s important not just for the numbers but for the rich comments. We’re busy analysing it and will update members with our plans soon after that.
- Later in the year, we’re planning a survey to gather expressions of interest for a members ‘policy panel’ so people can opt in to helping the Institute with a range of policy work. This might include linking us with relevant groups, contributing to consultations, doing media engagement or acting as a sounding board. Watch this space!
- The results from last year’s CPD survey will be published in the spring edition of Chartered Forester and are feeding into the planning of current programmes (coronavirus notwithstanding).
- Several of our members spoke at the very well received Accelerating Woodland Creation Conference on 25th March – Jo O’Hara MICFor, Dougal Driver FICFor, Caroline Ayre MICFor, John Deakin MICFor, James Hepburne Scott FICFor, James Simpson MICFor and John Tucker MICFor.
- We’ll be fielding a speaker at a new event in September by the Westminster Policy Forum on the future for agricultural land use. This will emphasise the importance of trees on farms and working closely with farmers.
- Many meetings and events have been cancelled but we still want to stay in touch – do send in your updates, suggestions or queries and, of course, sign up to the immensely popular #MembersHour.
A Few Updates from Elsewhere
- The second rounds of both the Urban Tree Challenge Fund and the Woodland Carbon Guarantee opened.
- The British Woodlands Survey is now live.
- Carbon Brief produced an excellent digest of challenges with carbon sequestration.
Please do send us your thoughts on this first policy blog, and your queries or comments about any of our activities to Jemima Cooper, Senior Policy and Research Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org.