The United Kingdom has a crucial role to play in the management and protection of trees worldwide, with professional foresters and arboriculturists taking the lead, the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) national conference heard today (Wednesday 10 April).
Pests and diseases, along with increased stress on trees associated with extreme weather events linked to climate change, are causing what delegates were told amounts to ‘appalling damage’ and there is a need for collaboration between professional foresters around the globe.
Speaking in a pre-recorded video message played to delegates at the conference in the Examination Rooms, Oxford, The Prince of Wales said that he has witnessed at first-hand the tragic and incalculable loss of larch and sweet chestnut trees to Phytophthora ramorum as well as ash dieback.
In his message to the conference The Prince of Wales talked about how pests and diseases are assisted by the increased tree stress associated with extreme weather events linked to climate change and this is resulting in the loss of vital habitat and a reduction in the range of tree species that can provide the nation with much needed products such as timber, fencing and fuelwood.
He talked about how important trees are, particularly in urban environments, as increasingly it is being shown that they can have an impact on our well-being. In his message, The Prince of Wales also said it is crucial that the Institute embraces a global perspective and its focus on developing the younger generation of professional foresters will play an essential role in the future.
ICF Executive Director Shireen Chambers FICFor has been involved in developing an International Network of Professional Forestry Associations and the Institute as a whole works with foresters and arboriculturists across the UK to develop their professional knowledge in all areas of research and practice.
She said: “In an age when professionalism is not always respected, it is important to acknowledge that we cannot sit back, assuming our standards are present on a global level. We need to take the lead and ensure that skills and experience matter.
“At the conference many of the sessions over two days are being chaired by young professionals as the ICF wants to highlight the number of young people choosing forestry and arboriculture as a career and help them to feel part of a community. This will ensure a young and skilled workforce is available to help meet the challenges of the 21st Century.”
Experts from around the world, including Australia, Belgium, Burkino Faso, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland and Canada, are speaking at the conference, which is chaired by Geraint Richards MVO MICFor, the Head Forester for the Duchy of Cornwall, responsible for the management of the trees and woodlands across the Duchy’s extensive land-holding in England and Wales.
Presenters and speakers at the conference will talk about the importance of forest science being a global collaboration, UK forestry’s place in action on climate change, why professionalism in forestry and arboriculture matters, how to inspire future foresters, and shaping a world where trees are appreciated in the countryside and in towns and cities.
Berry Wiersum, Chief Executive Officer of Sappi Europe, will say that what is happening on the political front in Europe when it comes to forestry and how it is increasingly growing in importance as both the most cost-effective carbon sink known to man, as well as increasingly a source for alternatives to fossil-based products.
Several speakers will touch on the importance of the UK as a whole increasing the number of trees being planted, in forests and in towns and cities, and how a new generation of planting could have a significant impact on reducing the nation’s global footprint.
Robert Matthews of Forest Research UK, will highlight some of the key challenges ahead, particularly the demands being placed on forests by humans, explaining that getting the balance right between protection and production is vital at a time when forests are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of pressures and threats.
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