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RFS response to Committee on Climate Change linked reports
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The Royal Forestry Society has given a cautious welcome to the government’s Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC’s) publication of two linked reports this month – one on land use and one on biomass.

Chief Executive Simon Lloyd said: “We welcome the emphasis the Committee places on the role of woodland in land use in the future and recognition that not only do we need more tree planting but improved forest management to support Green House Gas reductions and to improve resilience to climate change.

“It is also significant they recognise a new land use policy needs to be economic for landowners and farmers alike and that the Government will need to provide support with training, skills and information.

“We are also heartened that the committee has recognised sustainable sources of biomass can play an important role in meeting the UK’s long-term (2050) emissions targets, and moving towards net-zero emissions, but only with stricter governance to ensure sustainable supplies.”

The CCC suggested the Government must increase tree-planting from 9000 hectares per year on average to 20,000 hectares by 2020 and 27,000 hectares by 2030, and extend this further to 2050. This should go alongside planting energy crops on low-quality land.

Simon Lloyd said: “These tree-planting targets are only achievable with a radical reform of land use policy. As it stands the Agriculture Bill for England does not recognise the potential contribution of forestry to both economic and environmental policy objectives. Land managers should be incentivised both to plant more productive woods and to manage woodland well throughout its lifespan. At the same time an increase in the use of biomass must be accompanied by robust regulation which ensures high green house gas sources are not permissible. We will be awaiting that detail with interest.”

Read the Committee on Climate Change reports Land use: Reducing emissions and preparing for climate change  here  and Biomass in a low-carbon economy here