Written Evidence submitted by Forest of Selwood CIC (TPW0081)



The Forest of Selwood.


Selwood is a deeply historic landscape on the eastern edge of Somerset which has been a recognisable, legal and physical entity since at least early Anglo-Saxon times prior to the Norman Conquest. Within its borders there are the towns of Frome, Bruton, Wincanton and the headwaters of five significant rivers: the Brue, Frome, Stour, Wylye and Cale. For over a millennium the Forest of Selwood has been shaped by its people, trees and wildlife.


As an historic entity, the Forest of Selwood was one of the landscape areas called Forests or Chases (like the New Forest), over which Forest Law operated. These were wild areas where populations of large wild herbivores and their habitat were actively conserved, enforced by laws and fines.

The Forest of Selwood links to other Mediaeval Forest areas: Forest of Gillingham, Cranborne Chase and New Forest to the south, north into Chippenham and Melksham and west to Mendip. Taken together, this forms a chain of landscapes from The Solent to the Cotswolds Scarp characterized by trees; lone trees, in ancient woodlands, wood pastures and parkland, parks, orchards and hedgerows.


The Forest of Selwood Community Interest Company (FoS CIC)


The Forest of Selwood Community Interest Company comprises of local people, land managers and organisations as well as knowledgeable advisors committed to a better future for this special area. We collaborate with others that share our vision for the future to:


Selwood is a quintessentially English landscape characterized by flower-rich meadows, ancient wood pastures, parkland, hedgerows and lone or open-grown trees as well as extensive ancient woodland. The vision foresees a better-connected landscape of increasingly species-rich habitats, wilder river corridors that slow the flow, improved soil, air and water quality. Trees of all ages, but especially open-grown, lone trees and flowering native shrubs, play a special role in this.

The aim is to encourage and promote a diverse mix of regenerative agriculture, silvo-pastoralism, habitat conservation, restoration and creation and rewilding alongside a proportionate amount of forestry so that the landscape captures and holds carbon while reducing emissions of other greenhouse gases.

The aim is to create a wildlife-rich, more resilient and adapted place for people to live and work, through the promotion and active conservation of natural beauty and cultural capital. For example, we helped establish setting up an Environmental Stewardship, Selwood Facilitation Fund Group that has brought farmers together to protect and increase natural capital across the area.


We would like to see this once historic boundary between the Angles and the Danes to be considered as a new Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a large-scale landscape nature recovery project.



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Fos CIC response to the EFRA Inquiry Call for Evidence

Summary key points:


The vision should be for quality and diversity not just tree numbers. The Forest of Selwood CIC consider that the overwhelming focus on forestry and tree planting targets is fundamentally the wrong approach. Our vision for our area is for a landscape rich in trees, especially lone or open-grown trees, but as part of a diversity of habitats that are of as much benefit for biodiversity overall as for carbon capture and residence. Too many trees of the wrong kind, in the wrong space and wrong place would be in our opinion wholly wrong and would damage open habitats and landscapes.

Working in partnership with the whole community is a priority. We work in partnership and share our vision with many organisations and the community, but the primary mechanism of intervention appears to be entirely in individual landowners’ hands, strongly influenced by blanket government targets and government incentives plus carbon credits. This takes all agency away from organisations like FoS CIC and the wider community and all too easily result in a landscape that only a minority benefits from and does not achieve carbon targets either. Public money should maximise public good. FoS supports the concept of Nature Recovery Networks that should be the key spatial guidance and prioritisation mechanism implemented through Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS). We would welcome within a LNRS for our area a map of existing areas important for nature (covering protected sites and wildlife-rich habitats and individual valuable trees) and identifies in detail key opportunities for enhancement.


Clarity of land-use terminology will avoid unintended consequences. FoS CIC requests that the terminology is thoroughly reviewed so that it is fit for purpose. Words such as forestry, woodland creation or tree planting sound superficially appealing but are very misleading and in particular do not reflect the beauty, heritage and diversity in the English landscape created by wood-pasture and parkland, lone/open-grown trees, hedgerows, orchards and riverine tree’d corridors. These are the tree features FoS CIC would like for our area and not densely planted, closed canopy, dark blocks of native or exotic conifers purely for timber production outcomes. Open-grown, ancient and other veteran trees, wood-pasture and parkland are of international value for biodiversity and they should be protected from harm or loss. Opportunities for enhancing wildlife need to be strongly incentivised in our Forest of Selwood area, including re-wilding (a form of wood pasture land use) where natural processes of tree colonisation are encouraged.


Please bear the above points in mind in our answers to the questions.


Question 1: Are the UK Government’s targets for increasing forestry coverage, and tree planting, for England and the UK sufficiently ambitious and realistic?








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Question 2: Are the right structures in place to ensure that the UK wide target for increasing forestry coverage is delivered?








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3) How effective is the co-ordination between the four nations on forestry issues, including biosecurity, plant health and other cross-border issues?



4) Why were previous ambitions for increasing tree planting in England not met and what lessons should be learned?


FoS CIC consider that lack of understanding of the forestry and agricultural industries to a deeply held appreciation of a quintessentially diverse, beautiful and historic landscape rich in wildlife by the British people is a major obstacle. 


The way wilding has captured the public imagination is a good indicator that biodiversity targets must be equally addressed.


The government must address issues of community engagement in decision-making if public money is to be used to incentivise outcomes and that one-size-fits all plantation planting is not the sole solution because it is the simplest to administer.



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5) In relation to increasing forestry coverage in England, what should the Government be trying to achieve? For example, how should the following policy objectives be prioritised?


    - Mitigating or adapting to climate change;

    -  Promoting biodiversity and nature recovery;

    -  Increasing biosecurity and plant health;

    -  Improving human well-being and health;

    -  Protecting natural and cultural heritage;

    -  Food security;

    -  Creating commercial opportunities from forestry, tourism and recreation; and

    -  Any other priorities –



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6) Are the right policies and funding in place to appropriately protect and manage existing woodlands in England? How will prospective changes to policy and legislation effect this?

FoS CIC supports the answers to this question supplied by the Wood Pasture and Parkland Network and the Ancient Tree Forum.








December 2020