Polegate MP praised over forest challenge

Polegate and Seaford MP Norman Baker and his government colleagues have been praised for their approach to the nation’s forests in light of the

government’s response to the report by the Independent Panel on Forestry (IPF).

The Woodland Trust wrote to the MP following the IPF report published in July last year into the future of the nation’s forest which laid down a challenge to the nation and the government to recognise the value of our forests and woodlands and the need to grow a new appreciation of them.

Controversial government plans could have seen Friston Forest and other woodland areas taken over by private companies, charities or community groups. But it was later announced by the government that it would not sell off publicly owned forests in England.

At the end of last month, the government published its response to the report which has been broadly praised by the Woodland Trust.

The response includes the need to develop a new woodland culture and a resilient forestry and woodland sector and the importance of protecting our woodland assets.

Mr Baker said, “It is fair to say the initial policy direction for our woodlands was very ill thought-out and I wrote to the Defra Secretary of State on a number of occasions to express my concerns, which I know my constituents shared.

“It was right, therefore, that against this strong opposition the decision was made to take a step back and review how best our forests and woodlands can be utilised and preserved for future generations.

“It is great the Woodland Trust believes that this has broadly been achieved and that we now have a foundation of a policy that puts protections of our forests and woodlands at the fore.”