ICF conference to improve forester/farmer connections

24 March 2023

Increased integration between farmers and foresters will be promoted at a conference organised by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) from April 25-26.

The ICF’s National Conference 2023: Connecting Trees, Farmers and Foresters will encourage rural sector stakeholders to have a frank, honest and engaged discussion about the integration of trees into farming and foster a mutually beneficial relationship between forestry and farming.

“Farmers and foresters are often portrayed in opposition,” said Louise Simpson, executive director of the ICF. “However, we are only going to reach climate change targets if we work together. We hope this ground-breaking conference will promote partnership and collaboration between the sectors, raise awareness of the challenges and opportunities and explore the multiple benefits, both economic and environmental, of integrating trees into farms, from small plantations and silvopasture to larger-scale agroforestry.

“This is not about foresters talking at farmers and telling them what to do; we want to stimulate an honest and frank debate. Farming and forestry are both vital, from the food we eat to the clothes that keep us warm and the homes we live in, as well as flood prevention, increases in biodiversity and climate change mitigation.”

“‘Plant more trees’ is a deceptive slogan,” said conference chair Sir Harry Studholme, former Forestry Commission chairman. “Easy to say, harder to do – nearly every bit of land is used for something. In the countryside, most land is used is to grow food. Forestry’s conversation with farming is both inevitable and important.

“Farmers have fair questions about planting, some cultural, on how the landscape looks and how communities might change, some economic around productivity, and how we fund jobs to keep our landscape alive.

“At the same time, farming is changing fast. The Common Agricultural Policy is unwinding, trade barriers melting away and environmental responsibilities increasing. With these changes comes pressure on businesses. Forestry can help but to do so foresters and farmers must work together – this conference will explore how building better connections can benefit both.”

The event will be held at Edgbaston Stadium on April 25 and 26, with online tickets also available for those unable to attend in person but who still wish to engage with the conference. For further information and tickets, visit Home | National Conference 2023: Connecting Trees, Farmers and Foresters - April 25, 2023 (pheedloop.com).

The conference aims to improve the connections between foresters and farmers