News: May 2014

Date posted: 14/05/14

Tree Felling is Controlled

Dear Sir,

Mr Wilson is correct (letter 1st may) to observe that timber harvesting activity has increased in the North East over the last year or so. He is also correct to surmise that this activity is price driven, but it hardly constitutes a gold rush for woodland owners. Timber prices have been rising, and if they continue to do so, they may soon reach levels last seen over 20 years ago! In real terms, timber prices are about 45% below levels achieved in the 1990s.

For much of the intervening period, woodland management work could only be carried out at a loss to the owner. Better prices have resulted in a backlog of management and felling work being addressed. This in turn provides increased work and jobs for foresters, hauliers and local processors. Thinning may not always be appropriate management, and clear felling will often be necessary.

Where Mr Wilson is incorrect is to think that there is some dastardly Government plot, where by the Forestry Commission is required to work with landowners against the wider public interest. He is also wrong to call for forestry work to be included in the local authority planning process.

Woodland management is carried out in accordance with strict national and international standards. The Forestry Commission, with its appropriately skilled woodland officers, is charged with ensuring that private woodland owners operate in accordance with these standards. Virtually all woodland management will be carried out under a plan formerly approved by the FC. As part of the approval process, relevant bodies will be consulted with and the plan will be placed on a public register and comments invited.

If the public are to enjoy long term, diverse benefits, then forests must be managed and regulated by foresters, rather than by ill-informed planning authorities and public opinion.


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