A BODY that represents 2,000 forest and wood-using businesses in the UK has called for new forestry grant schemes to support the planting of softwoods and hardwoods.
It said it was vital that new forestry grants support targeted softwood planting and that opportunities are taken to ensure that broadleaved planting produces future supplies of quality wood.
Confor’s briefing to Owen Paterson and forestry minister Dan Rogerson came on the back of the publication of the first ever 50-year production forecast on softwoods and hardwoods, which Confor had been asking to be prepared for over two years.
Caroline Harrison, Confor’s England manager, said: “The softwood forecast shows that wood availability will fall away in 30 to 40 years, threatening a successful, low-carbon industry which is displacing over £1bn of wood imports every year.
“In order to secure the future of this industry, it is vital that government support for new planting includes targeted support for planting softwoods.
“In northern England, for example, there is greater marginal land, and land-prices and CAP support are lower. Here, there is greater ability to deliver larger areas of woodland at lower cost, delivering carbon and biodiversity benefits, as well as securing local employment and business investment.”
Confor also reiterated the importance of controlling grey squirrels if England is to bring more of its woodlands back into beneficial management and to protect new planted woodland.
She said: “Grey squirrel control should be a key feature of public support to the forestry sector, with grants providing for control of grey squirrels and government working with the private sector in a similar way it does with deer.”