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29 November 2012
Woodland Trust Chief Executive Sue Holden said:
"Last year it was the u-turn on proposals to sell off England's forests, recently it has taken a national crisis in the form of ash dieback to force Government to act for forests in the UK.
Ed Davey's announcement today that £15m of funding will go towards developing systems for climate change mitigation and poverty alleviation in Colombia is obviously important. However, it seems that the Government's focus is all too often on what is happening abroad in terms of forests. There has been a chronic underfunding to important areas of forestry in the UK and it shows. New funding must be allocated to ensure work to protect and support our forests, woods and trees at home is delivered.
Davey's recognition that the money should be used to support smallholder farmers to plant trees to increase biodiversity, improve their livelihood, reduce carbon emissions, and protect local forests is significant. However, it is this kind of thinking the Government should harness and apply to forests, woods and trees in the UK. Planting more native trees and woods here at home could extend and link our precious ancient woodlands and contribute to bigger and better networks of habitats that will make our countryside more resilient in the face of growing threats.
Not only are UK trees facing an unprecedented number of pests and diseases, they are also under threat from development and climate change. As Ed Davey has recognised, trees can play a vital role in the mitigation of climate change. But, as the Bishop of Liverpool said in his foreword to the Independent Panel on Forestry's final report: 'We lecture the world on deforestation and its impact on climate change and biodiversity, but we need to lead by example if our words are to be taken seriously by other nations.'
The IPF report, which focused on forests in England, is still awaiting a full Government response. That response is expected in January and in it we expect to see a real commitment at all levels of Government to drive change and ensure England's forests are given the support and funding they desperately need to ensure the huge environmental and economic benefits they offer are maximised."