Clinton Devon Estates response to Forestry Panel Report
Plans for more woodland are welcomed but good forestry management is essential
Devon landowner Clinton Devon Estates, which manages 1900 hectares of woodland across the north and east of the county, has welcomed today's recommendation from the Forestry Panel that public forests should be safeguarded for the next 100 years and that woodland cover in England should be increased from 10% to 15% by 2060.
Responding to today's Forestry Panel report, which sets out a vision for a new woodland culture in England, Clinton Devon Estates, whose own woodlands cover 17% of its total 25,000 acres, believes that woods and forests provide a real opportunity to revitalise the rural economy, while at the same time providing valuable space for nature and public recreation.
Estates Director John Varley, who is a member of the Forestry Panel and contributed to the report said: "Forestry and woodland management is an essential part of our work at Clinton Devon Estates and we recognise the enormous importance of healthy, well managed woodlands to rural communities in providing jobs, timber and woodchip to fuel the local economy."
"The value of our woodlands in terms of the quality of life they offer to people and to nature is immeasurable. At Clinton Devon Estates, we actively manage our woodlands for bio-diversity and have achieved a complex environment with a rich diversity of tree species and age structure. This has provided a wide range of habitats for many plants, animals and birds, such as the rare Nightjar." (In East Devon, 90% of Clinton Devon Estates woodland offers recreational benefits through permissive public access.)
"However, as woodland owners, we have numerous challenges ahead, not least ensuring a vibrant UK timber market to allow us to provide the income necessary to manage the woodlands effectively. This includes undertaking expensive thinning operations and, where necessary, tackling tree disease. Forests do not manage themselves and it is important that we do not underestimate the hard work and expertise that goes into growing healthy, sustainable woodlands."
Mr Varley added: "We welcome the Forestry Panel's ambitious targets for woodland creation, but would encourage landowners, the government and the public to do their part in helping to achieve this by investing in disease research and increased vigilance over imports to minimise the risk of new diseases affecting our trees." (This spring, Clinton Devon Estates had to harvest 10 hectares (25 acres) of healthy Japanese larch at Otterton Hill, near Bicton to halt the progress of the tree disease Phytophthora ramorum and save a 50 year old crop of timber. Much of the replanting has already been carried out.)
Clinton Devon Estates is already taking steps to extend its woodland cover with the planting of a Jubilee Wood at Harpford in East Devon. The three hectare site (7.4 acres), alongside Harpford Wood near Newton Poppleford, is being planted - with the help of local schoolchildren and members of the community - with around 6000 Douglas fir and Ash saplings. Although the woodland will not be mature for 80 years, the public access routes will be open this year and will join the 40 mile East Devon Way with footpath number 12 at Newton Poppleford.
- Clinton Devon Estates woodlands produce around 10,000m³ of FSC certified timber each year, largely from selective thinning operations. Douglas fir, spruce and larch are the major source of timber products sold to manufacturers, sawmills and wood processing industries in local, regional and national markets. Woodchip - a clean and renewable energy source - is also produced and fuels the Clinton Devon Estates' head office the Rolle Estate Office at Bicton Arena, as well as County Hall in Exeter.
- Clinton Devon Estates' Head of Forestry and Environmental Economy is John Wilding MBE, a member of the Government's Forestry Regulation Task Force, which was set up to identify how regulations on forest-based business can be eased to enable them to become more profitable and commercially resilient in the future while maintaining a focus on low-carbon economy and biodiversity protection. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-8D8EF3