Written evidence submitted by Martin Allen (TPW0001)

Evidence for EFRA Committee 7 October 2020 by Martin Allen

I have specialist knowledge in a limited area, but would like to contribute to your enquiry – if you would like further information on any of the points do get in touch.

In relation to part 5) in your call for evidence “Promoting biodiversity and nature recovery” I would like to point out the following

There is no national strategy to conserve the within-species genetic diversity of our native trees and shrubs because there has been no study of how distinct any regional populations are or in relation to European populations with the exception of “silver birch, ash, Scots pine and oak” according to this report from UK Forest Research https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/research/genetic-considerations-provenance-choice-native-trees-under-climate-change-england/  (see page 35 under the section ‘Understudied species). Any future planting could disrupt distinct regional populations without our knowledge, as indeed can current or past planting and these changes could adversely restrict future generations.

The current Priority Habitat maps produced on MAGIC maps are unreliable in relation to one of our rarest habitats Lowland Meadow (ancient grassland is now far rarer than ancient woodland due an inappropriate and misguided lack of conservation priority) and there is concern that trees will be planted inappropriately due to lack of site survey, or site survey by inexperienced personnel.

I would suggest there is too much emphasis on planting in relation to conservation and that ‘plant trees for timber, sow trees for conservation’ is a better way of highlighting the differences required; the former allows for standardisation, the later promotes knowledge, difference, and diversity.