On 7 December 2023, the National Wood Strategy for England was launched at Confor’s UK Policy Conference in London, where lead author Tom Barnes from Vastern Timber discussed the strategy’s key points and next steps, and Naomi Matthiessen provided a response on behalf of Defra. Attending the conference on behalf of the Institute was our Senior Technical Officer and Chartered Forester, Shona Smyth MICFor.
The National Wood Strategy for England has been recognised by the Institute and its membership as a much-needed call to action for Government, surrounding the often-sidelined timber crisis in amongst the regularly headlined skills crisis, biodiversity crisis and climate crisis. Whilst many of the suggested targets and associated actions are not new, it is important that they are re-iterated, to prevent them being lost amongst other ambitions.
Sustainability is the overarching objective that connects professional foresters and arboriculturists representing all strands of the sector – with research and evidence underpinning all that we do. Whilst we recognise the significance of the proposed path towards a sustainable forest and timber industry in England, we must also acknowledge the role that all woodland types have in meeting our targets; a point that could have been further amplified given the cross-sector collaboration for producing the strategy.
We welcome the emphasis on productive woodlands in all forms and recognise the role of broadleaves in meeting our current and future timber demands. It is vital that we reduce our need to offshore and become more self-sufficient with our timber supply if we are to even come close to achieving net zero as an industry. It is also important that we advocate the additional benefits of productive woodlands, many of which will not be achievable if we do not address the shortage of professionals within our industry and remove perceived perceptions surrounding forestry.
We wholeheartedly support the intentions of the National Wood Strategy for England, but at the same time must recognise that this does not represent the breadth of our membership.Read the strategy