Confor supports calls for one-stop-shop forestry grants21 March 2017
Confor has supported the “highly critical” report on Forestry in England published today by the government’s food and rural affairs committee.
The report, published on International Day of the Forests, calls on the government to “reinstate a one-stop shop for forestry grants on day one of the UK’s exit from the European Union”.
Confor supports the call but wants the government to start the process now, giving the Forestry Commission full responsibility for the process, and for hitting the planting targets.
It said the Forestry Commission must return to its roots and be given responsibility to reverse a tree planting crisis which threatened to plunge England into deforestation. It called the current system for woodland creation as “overly complex and bureaucratic”.
Confor calculates that even the modest government target of planting 11 million trees during the 2015-2020 parliamentary term would not be hit until summer 2027 based on current planting rates.
“We have an overly complex and bureaucratic system involving three bodies - Natural England, the Rural Payments Agency and Forestry Commission England - and it is simply not working,” said Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall.
“It is bureaucratic, confusing for applicants and - as I told the EFRA inquiry - not fit for purpose. The proof of policy failure is the disastrous year for tree planting in 2016 - the worst on record. 2017 looks little better and we face a real prospect of deforestation – something we associate with the Amazon, not England.
“The solution is to hand full powers for approving and funding new tree planting schemes to the Forestry Commission.”
Chris Davies MP, chair of Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF) and a member of the EFRA committee supports Confor’s proposal.