HTA calls on Defra to avoid forestry crisis

The HTA is calling on Defra to take urgent action to address the looming crisis in forestry planting.

There will be no woodland creation grants in England in 2014 and 2015 because of the ?transition period? to the implementation of the EU CAP budget for 2013-2020.?? The result is that forestry planting could halve within 12 months, and then drop by two thirds in 2015 resulting in a devastating impact on the tree nursery sector.

Gary Scroby, HTA Policy Manager comments, ?Many UK nurseries are still hurting from the ash dieback outbreak last year which rendered UK ash crops redundant.? A two year void in government backed planting grants would put the commercial viability of many UK nurseries in extreme jeopardy.? We fear that several would not survive until the next grant scheme opens in 2016.?

Scroby adds, ?A two year void would make a mockery of the government?s Forestry Policy Statement in January which set out to protect, improve and expand the nation?s woodlands and forests.? Planting would actually decline, and when demand picked up there would likely be fewer UK nurseries around to supply home grown trees.? The net result would be increased imports and increased biosecurity risks.?

The HTA has fully supported the Woodlands Trust campaign which has garnered more than 30,000 signatures to address the lack of government support for woodland management and creation grants, pointing out the wider environmental dangers to the English countryside.

?We understand that their campaign has been successful in securing Ministerial interest to the issue.? We hope that this leads to action.? If funds for planting are not unlocked, the risks to the environment and rural economy are very significant,? Scroby concludes.

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