Today’s Yorkshire Post carries an interview with Sir William Worsley, chair of the Forestry Commission. Coverage of the interview leads on Sir William’s calls for more forestry workers to be trained to help meet the new tree planting target of 30,000 hectares per year, across the UK, by 2025, as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
The article notes that currently 58% of woods in England are actively managed, a figure which Sir William is determined to increase, saying “it’s relatively important to plant a tree. It is much more complicated to manage them.”
As part of this, Sir William wants to see better engagement with the education sector so that they can provide the courses that are needed, in order to promote forestry as a buoyant and attractive career to go into.
Sir William told the newspaper that in order to increase tree planting rates, he wants to look at streamlining the planting process as well as making sure the right incentives are there. He says it is vital that the Forestry Commission works together with other organisations and land managers to make sure that the right trees are planted on the right land, as some environments such as deep peat or prime agricultural land are unsuitable.
In the March Budget, £640m was awarded to fund tree planting and peatland restoration through the new ‘Nature for Climate’ fund. To meet the planting targets and reach net zero by 2050, Sir William also highlights the importance of finding trees from UK sources to protect our biosecurity, which the article highlights will be particularly important for nurseries which are being hard-hit by coronavirus.
He also stresses the need to get key stakeholders onside to ensure the success of tree planting programmes by discussing their plans from the onset.
Formerly the government’s National Tree Champion, Sir William has brought enthusiasm and insight to his new appointment as Forestry Commission Chair. While he notes that the short-term challenge to meet the tree planting targets will be undoubtedly great, the potential long-term rewards will be even greater; and will bring numerous benefits for future generations to enjoy.