Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement

4th Feb 2013

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) have welcomed the publication of the Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement, which they say "recognises how biomass can add to the economic value of forests and therefore encourage more woodlands to be planted".

On the 31st of January, The Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) released its Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement.

The statement highlights the significant amount of undermanaged woodland in England, which could provide a valuable resource for the woodfuel industry if brought back into commercial use.

The Forestry Commission estimate that around 47 per cent of English woodlands - most in private sector ownership - remain unmanaged or under-managed.

Defra say that bringing these neglected woodlands back into management is a Government priority and that one potentially valuable area for further exploration will be the woodfuel market.

According to the statement, wood products that are harvested from England’s woodlands will help to reduce greenhouse emissions from the energy sector directly as woodfuel and from other sectors where timber replaces more energy intensive materials.

The statement also recognises that diseases and pests are a "clear threat" to existing woodlands, having a "significant impact on the successful establishment and regeneration of new woodland, woodland management, the quality of timber and the quality of woodland habitats."

In response to the statement, Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the REA, said: "Forty five per cent of England’s forests are unmanaged, which means they are less effective at absorbing carbon, not so accessible, less good for biodiversity and more vulnerable to diseases."

"By sitting alongside other industries like construction and carpentry, bioenergy uses by-products that can find little other value – such as thinnings, off-cuts and residues. That provides an extra revenue stream which, coupled with robust sustainability criteria, helps landowners to invest in responsible forest management," she added.

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