A NEW Science and innovation strategy to support the long term future of forestry in Great Britain was published this week by the Welsh Government.
The new strategy recognises the key role the sector has in addressing the challenges of reversing the decline in biodiversity, climate change, and supporting the green recovery from Covid-19 – and looks to science and innovation’s contribution to this effort.
An imminent set of research programmes will reflect this, aiming to support a thriving industry and job creation, whilst maximising the contribution woodlands and forestry can make to improving Britain’s natural environment.
Forestry and primary wood processing in the UK currently generates £2.5 billion Gross Value Added a year, from a total woodland area of 3.2 million hectares.
The new strategy sets out the high level outcomes, themes and areas of research interest identified by the Welsh, UK and Scottish Governments and forestry stakeholders including the Forestry Commission. It also outlines how that research will be monitored and communicated.
The seven shared priorities identified include research on the following themes:
• Sustainable forest management in light of environmental change;
• Markets for forest products and services;
• Societal benefits from trees, woods and forests;
• Resource assessment and sector monitoring;
• Achieving multiple ecosystem benefits;
• Woodland creation and expansion;
• Tree health and biosecurity.
Welcoming the strategy’s publication, the Welsh Government’s Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Minister, Lesley Griffiths, said: “Forestry in the UK is a vital sector, generating enormous environmental and economic benefits. As we seek to increase woodland creation to tackle the climate emergency and work towards a green recovery from Covid-19, a strategic approach to forestry research is more important than ever.
“Our forests face a number of challenges from pests and diseases, and in adapting to climate change. That is why it is so important to have robust and innovative science to guide decisions and policy. This new strategy will play a key role in making sure our forests are resilient and healthy and ensuring the sector has a sustainable future.”
Scottish Government Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing, said: “This Strategy is important – the research emanating from it will support our mission to promote sustainable forest management alongside expanding our woodland cover to help meet the current climate emergency.
“Sound research and science is also key to helping the forestry sector respond and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, by supporting economic growth and green jobs.”
UK Government Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith, added: “Growing and protecting the UK’s forests is an integral part of our green recovery from coronavirus and fight against climate change, which is why we’re committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025.
“Using the brilliant expertise of Forest Research and other research providers, this new strategy gives us the framework needed to ensure we maintain sustainable and resilient woodlands for decades to come.”