What is the UK Government Doing to Protect the Trees, Forests and Woodland
Just like elsewhere in Europe, trees and forests in the UK are threatened by climate change and population growth but they are also threatened by pests and diseases. In order to preserve and expand the UK forests, it is therefore of crucial importance to protect the existing private and public woodland. The UK Government is aware of both the importance of the forests and dangers to woodland, and is taking concrete measures to make sure that they remain healthy and continue to supply us with wood and fuel, support wildlife and reduce the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and subsequently, reduce the effects of climate change.
The UK Government has instruments to protect privately owned forests as well but it obviously has incomparably more control over publicly owned woodland. To keep the UK forests in good condition and make sure that they are protected from damage, the Government isn’t only regulating their management through legislation but it is also providing funding for sustainable forest management.
In 2013, the Government secured £3.5 million for the Forestry Commission to plant new trees, take the necessary measures to protect the forests from pests and diseases as well as to take action in case of their outbreaks, provide grants and advice to private forest owners, etc. The Government, however, also secured another £2 million for implementation of adopted plans and policies in regard to forestry.
Plant Imports, Movement and Keeping
In addition to the existing restrictions on plant imports, movement and keeping, the Government has also adopted further measures to protect the UK trees and forests from pests and diseases, such as:
- strengthening the import controls
- ensuring additional funds for research
- implementing measures to prevent/slow the spread of pests and diseases such as the Chalara fraxinea fungus which was discovered in Britain in 2012
In 2012, the Government also set up the Tree and Plant Health Biosecurity Expert Taskforce with the task to review the risks to tree and plant health and develop recommendations on how to overcome the identified risks.
Improving Forest Management
According to data of the UK Government, nearly one half of woodland isn’t properly managed. To improve forest management and boost woodland economy at the same time, the Government is:
- implementing the Forestry Regulation Task Force recommendations
- funding research on forest management that helps both preserve woodland and allows the owners make the most out of their woodland
Forests provide food, shelter and habitat to many wildlife species. Wildlife protection is therefore also an important part of the Government’s plan to protect the trees, forests and woodland. Current wildlife protection measures are set out in Biodiversity 2020 and the Natural environment white paper. But the Government is also working on a new strategy which will be published later in the year 2013.
The Government’s action on protection of the trees, forests and woodland is developed in close cooperation with:
- National Forest
- Forestry Commission
- Community Forest Programme