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Monday, 12 December 2011

New Forest National Park Authority welcomes Panel report on forestry

The New Forest National Park Authority has welcomed an interim report by a panel set up to look into the future of England’s woodlands.

The Independent Panel on Forestry sets out a broad vision of providing a wider range of benefits to more people, and will explore the role of not just the public forest estate but all woodlands, including those in other ownerships, in delivering more for society, the environment and the economy.

Responding directly to one of the issues it was asked to address, the progress report states that the Panel sees a continuing role for a national public forest estate in England.

New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Julian Johnson said: ‘I have read the report with interest and am pleased to see the Panel has recognised the value of the public estate and that woods are good for nature, good for people and good for the economy.

‘We look forward to hearing from the Panel about the details of its visit to the New Forest which is planned for 28 February, prior to the publication of its final report. It will be important for them to meet a wide range of organisations and local people to gain an understanding of the complexities of how the Open Forest is looked after, through the ancient practice of commoning and the efforts of a wide range of partners working together.

‘It is important that the Panel understands the particular characteristics of the New Forest – the pressures on the landscape, the diversity and the numbers of visitors who come here.’

The Government launched a consultation on the future of the public forest estate managed by the Forestry Commission in January 2011. This includes the Crown land in the New Forest National Park. The Panel, chaired by The Right Reverend James Jones Bishop of Liverpool, was then set-up to advise the Government on the future of England’s forests and woods.

The Panel says it is working towards recommendations that will increase the benefits generated from all forests in England, including to the people that enjoy them, to nature and to the businesses that rely on them.

The Panel also recognises it will need to take a longer term view and its recommendations – in a final report to Government in spring 2012 – will reflect this.

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