Native Woodland Conservation Scheme – In name only

Forest Service announced the re-opening of the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme at the National Ploughing Championships September 2015. Although welcomed in theory, in practice the new scheme is completely inadequate and basically unworkable. The new scheme focuses more on improving small areas of suitable woodland rather than the conservation of the whole, which the title implies. The old scheme was an exceptional one as it rewarded native woodland owners who conserved their woods, while providing grant-aid for any rejuvenation works. The new scheme has so many up-front costs and constraints that I’d be surprised if many native woodland owners would be willing to jump through so many hoops for so little in return. Forest Service obviously remain focused on the production of small scale exotic conifer plantations, many of which are too small to ever be considered┬ácommercial, even if they didn’t actually discourage forest road building in to them. But I believe they really missed out here on an opportunity to help us conserve our native woodlands, our national heritage, not just now but for future generations to enjoy. If our native woodlands are not conserved, protected, improved and given a value, then what incentive is there for their owners to retain them? By the way, there wasn’t even any real public or professional consultation regarding the new scheme as there was with the old. The old scheme worked, and worked well. The new scheme doesn’t, at all. Sean McGinnis Ecoplan Forestry 13/10/15...
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