Confor’s report on the potential implications of Brexit on the Forestry and timber sector has been published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry (APPGF). An extended version of the document, written by Martin Glynn, includes recommendations for the UK Government and a foreword by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the APPGF, Conservative MPs Chris Davies and Anne Marie Trevelyan.
“We commend this report as an excellent framework to shape the future of Rural policy in the interests of the forestry sector, and of our rural communities as a whole.”
In the foreword to Shaping a post-EU future for the UK forestry sector, the MPs say: “The process of shaping the future of our rural sector will take time and we are at a very early stage. However, it is important to start thinking about what the future might look like and we very much welcome the informed, detailed and thoughtful contribution made by Confor at this early stage.”
The MPs also praise Confor’s leadership and its “efforts to bring together different stakeholders and to collaborate with all those interested in forestry and broader rural policy” and continue: “A strong, united voice is important as we sail into uncharted waters.”
The report’s recommendations call for assurances that “existing funding commitments for planting new forests through the Countryside Stewardship grant scheme (and its equivalents in devolved administrations) will be maintained beyond the date that the UK leaves the European Union”.
The other recommendations call on the UK government to:
• Recognise forestry’s growing importance as a land use in any agricultural or wider rural policy developed post-Brexit, especially the wide range of economic, environmental and social benefits provided by forestry and timber, and ensure that forestry is not disadvantaged as government develops future policy and support for rural areas outside of the CAP
• Consider carefully independent studies [e.g. Eskdalemuir] which show the relative benefits of forestry to other land uses in terms of rural employment and economic benefits
• Ensure future trade and immigrations arrangements reflect the importance to forestry and the timber trade of free movement of labour
• Acknowledge the devolved nature of forestry within the UK and involve all nations of the UK in agreements impacting on the forestry sectors in their respective administrations.
Stuart Goodall, Confor’s Chief Executive, wrote the introduction to the report, which he describes as “an excellent basis for businesses to think about how they react to Brexit in a considered and appropriate way”.
His introduction also says: “Confor will continue to work closely with all parties to deliver successful outcomes for the rural economy. However, while working hard to shape future policy, we must not be consumed by Brexit. The success of our sector depends upon greatly enhanced tree planting and we must address that issue here and now, as planting levels are unacceptably low.”
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