from Save Sandlings Forests campaign
The Forestry panel requested our views on five questions . The text of the submission in response to these questions is shown below.
1 – What do forests and woods mean to you ?
Forests mean many different things to those who use or visit or are involved in
them. They are much loved and used by local people and visitors and are
important for access and recreation, for timber production, for the local
economy and for biodiversity and the environment.
The forests are
in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the much visited coastal area of
East Suffolk. It is a rural area with limited alternatives for recreation
because most of the land is privately owned and mainly used for agriculture.
Users come not only from rural areas but also from towns and villages that
include areas with social and economic problems.
forests (comprising Rendlesham, Tunstall and Dunwich forests) cover about 3500
ha, approximately the ninth largest public forest in the country. The forests
are run as multipurpose forests in which timber production is very important,
forests are managed to enhance biodiversity, and much work is done to support
recreation for leisure and health. The forests are a Special Protection Area in
which clear felling and restocking methods of timber production and maintaining
clear areas are essential for maintaining the nationally important populations
of woodlark and nightjar[ii].
were originally planted in the 1920s on poor sandy soils as coniferous forests
for timber, and the Forestry Commission has over many decades been reshaping
them (helped by the dramatic impact of the 1987 great storm) into a mosaic of
conifer, broadleaf and heathland habitats that are important for wildlife.
Our forests are
widely used by a large range of organised groups as well as casual visitors.
There is an impressively long list of user groups and activities that take place
and the Forestry Commission play an important role in facilitating many of them.
Activities include general walking and dog walking, walking for health, horse
riding, cycling and mountain biking, carriage driving including for wheelchair
users, husky racing, orienteering, use by families (with impressive play
facilities), camping, use by the armed forces, using education facilities,
conservation studies, to name just the most obvious ones[iii].
recreation strategy suggests that 4 million visitors’ day trips a year are
made to the area, and half a million people stay overnight in the area[iv].
A more recent
and detailed survey of two of the three Sandlings forests (Rendlesham and
Tunstall) found that 950,000 visitor day trips are made per year, meaning the
figure for the whole of the forests is considerably more than 1 million[v].
forests are important for the local economy, in particular for small businesses
such as cycle hire, food kiosks, local pubs, shops, bed-and-breakfast, and
locally revenue from tourism is extremely important.
2 – What is your vision for the future of England’s forests and woods ?
3 – What do you feel to be the benefits of forests and woods to:
Members of Save
Sandlings Forests campaign value Sandlings forests highly and benefit from them
in a wide variety of ways as outlined in answer to Question 1.
society as a whole;
the natural environment;
Commission is re-shaping Sandlings forests to ensure they provide a variety of
habitats for wildlife. It is doing this in a measured way, balancing the value
of forests in mitigating climate change and providing alternative energy sources
with priorities for conservation and access, and ensuring they consult
stakeholders and local people through Forest District Plans.
4 – We would like to hear about your suggestions of practical solutions and
good practice which can be replicated more widely.
be increased for the Forestry Commission rather than being cut. The Forestry
Commission carries out multipurpose forestry on the Public Forest Estate, and
has a role in encouraging good practice in forestry more generally.
All parts of
the Forestry Commission work together to provide the services and carry out
important functions. Forest Enterprise runs the Public Forest Estate, Forest
Research carries out essential research which is of benefit to public and
private forests and benefits from having the Public Forest Estate in which to do
it, Forest Services plays an essential role in providing grants, felling
licences, etc, while the administration and other corporate services are crucial
to running the whole organisation.
Commission exemplifies good practice: It
runs all its woodlands
sustainably under the international/UK standards of sustainability, ensuring
sustainable timber harvesting and management and replanting, health and safety,
recreation and access, biodiversity, protection of habitats and archaeology and
other heritage concerns, and community and stakeholder engagement and
uses Forest Design
Plans as a crucial part of the Forestry Commission’s work
5 – What do you see as the priorities and challenges for policy about
forests and woods ?
challenge at the moment is the government-imposed cuts in funding of the
Forestry Commission by 25%, and the restructuring of the organisation. This
should be stopped, at the very least until after the forestry panel has made
recommendations and these have been considered. The cuts and redundancies
will mean further loss of expertise, and the cuts in the funding of the Forestry
Commission will mean that it will not be able to operate effectively and
efficiently to continue to carry out the services it provides or to promote good
practice in forestry.
restructuring of districts for Forest Enterprise and Forest Services is likely
to be unworkable, and could mean the loss of local contacts, knowledge and
experience. This contradicts the government stated aim for more localism in
everything it does.
Tree disease is
an important challenge, and it is essential that the Forestry Commission's
Forest Research is fully funded to carry out essential work in this area, as
well as on other crucial forestry issues[vii].
challenges include combating climate change, and ensuring that public and
private forests play their part in doing this. Trees and forests store carbon
dioxide on a massive scale; however the conservation imperative to increase
other habitats such as heath land will reduce the capacity of the forest to
store carbon. The challenge is to balance these priorities.
[i] The Save Sandlings Forest campaign represents the views and concerns of various forest user groups and individuals who believe that our public forest estate should continue to be owned and managed as a national asset by a properly resourced Forestry Commission. We are members of the national Forest Campaigns Network.
http://www.savesandlingsforest.co.uk/. Contact details: Clive Coles, Alma Cottage, Bredfield, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 6AD, firstname.lastname@example.org; Imogen Radford, email@example.com, 07932 137593.
South Sandlings Living Landscape Project: Visitor survey report, by
Footprint Ecology, 2011