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Biodiversity   |   Nature   |   Net zero

Citizens to help shape future of woods

A new inquiry to give citizens a voice in the future of the UK’s woods is taking place in Devon to help shape the future of sustainable forestry and harness the huge momentum around tree planting.

Held by The Woodland Presents, a Community Interest Company based in Dartington, south Devon, the citizen-led series of events will take place four times a year and are open to anyone. The group is particular keen to welcome a diverse range of people, not just those who are already within the forestry community.

“If you’re a skilled engineer, wood nerd, designer, lawyer, farmer, marketeer, an agroforester, scientist or anything in between, join a task force, and inquiry, to change the story for Britain’s trees and forest,” said founder Al Tempest.

The Woodland Presents will host inquiry guests at its multi-purpose open-air venue The Glade, where talks will cover the community benefits of forestry, how British sustainable timber production could replace imports, and the link with food production through agroforestry.

Trees are recognised as a solution to carbon storage, but only if they survive.

 “Our society has known we need to plant trees and create forests for a long time. We know that we need better care for what we have already, yet our attempts to respond to this predicament have been inadequate,” said Tempest.

“Where are the sticking points? What’s holding us back? Where are the openings around us that we can opportunistically use, to enable a new forest paradigm?”

It comes amid huge momentum around tree planting as citizens, companies and the government wake up to the urgency in the climate and ecological crises.

In a recent speech, environment minister George Eustice announced £500 million for tree planting, including three ‘community forests’ and plans for peri urban forests, while the proliferation of net zero pledges from companies and organisations look set to drive an interest in trees throughout this year and beyond.

But there is little detail or advice about how or what trees should be planted to ensure they actually survive and reach their full potential. In a film made for Wicked Leeks, Tempest said: “Everyone is talking about tree planting at the moment, and that can result in a positive thing.”

But he added: “No one is talking about aftercare – there’s this misnomer about putting a tree in the ground and that being a great thing. But it only is if it lives, if it’s the right tree and it gets looked after.”


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