Written evidence submitted by Hugh Warmington (TPW0023)



1)      The target of planting 30,000 hectares per annum from 2025 is ambitious, but the climate and biodiversity emergencies require high targets.

2)      The right structures are not in place – yet.  ELMS should help at a farm level, but a separately funded and administered scheme is required to get woodland planted at scale.  Over time it will become clear what is working and what is not and it will be necessary to be prepared to change the incentives to achieve the desired outcomes.

3)      Cross-border co-ordination.  I don’t know, but it is important that this does not become a regulatory barrier.

4)      A number of reasons, but mostly economic.  Tree planting is expensive, risky and very long term.  The alternatives, in terms of land use, are cheaper, quicker and show a better return.   It may be that alternative land uses, such as beef and lamb production from marginal grassland, become less profitable and tree planting is seen as a better option.

5)      In terms of policy priorities, all are important and woodland can deliver them all.  It will be necessary to have different grant/subsidy rates to achieve different goals.  For instance, pure Sitka spruce will deliver on carbon sequestration, rural job creation and timber self-security, but will require lower support than native woodland planting in National Parks.  This is largely a political decision, but the greater the public benefit and the lower the economic return the greater the grant/subsidy required.  Work is required to carefully cost woodland creation and management, including, and importantly, pest control (fencing and culling); infrastructure, such as roading; and regulatory compliance.

6)      It is vital that existing woodlands are managed to a high standard to deliver the public benefits identified.  This will require resources: training, skills and expertise; a well functioning and profitable market for woodland produce; a light regulatory framework; a strengthened and well resourced Forestry Commission; and financial support for uneconomic activities that deliver public benefits.

Unless the Government is prepared to commit considerable financial resources to get trees planted and woodlands managed, this policy will fail.


November 2020