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RFS welcomes scientific approach to developing resilient woodlands
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Sir Jack Whitaker, Royal Forestry Society (RFS) President, has warmly welcomed a tripartite report, A future with broadleaved trees, as a major step in ensuring a strong woodland heritage for the Britain and Ireland. The report, launched today at the House of Commons, is by Future Trees Trust, Forest Research and Earth Trust.

The report, available at www.earthtrust.org.uk/Tree_Improvement  (or download via the link below) details a strategy for developing resilient broadleaved trees for woodlands in Britain and Ireland. It has been endorsed by the RFS.

Sir Jack Whitaker, who attended the launch at the House of Commons today, says:

“We welcome the scientific approach behind the strategy to use  wide ranging research to develop improved broadleaved trees better able to survive threats of pests, diseases and climate change. By developing trees with higher potential timber yields it will act as an incentive for landowners to develop, improve and maintain woodlands.

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Sir Jack Whitaker, RFS President, welcomes scientific approach to building resilient broadleaved woodlands

“A consistent approach to how we develop robust and resilient woodlands is vital. As important are the measures included within the report to ensure that the industry as a whole is kept updated on improvements, that the information is easily accessible to growers and that those planting new trees are sufficiently incentivised to use improved species.”

However, he also added a plea for the existing threat posed by the grey squirrel to British woodlands not to be overlooked at a time when new pests and diseases are grabbing the headlines. He also called for a commitment to more liaison with European organisations involved in similar research.

Lord De Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DEFRA launched the strategy, which is also supported by the forestry services of Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.

Tim Rowland, Development Officer for Future Trees Trust, said:

“We currently import about 95 per cent of the hardwood timber we use because the quantity and quality of the timber from our broadleaved trees means we can’t compete with foreign imports. Using improved trees can change that and increase our trees’ resilience to diseases at the same time.”

Jayne Manley, CEO of Earth Trust said: “Our much loved broadleaved trees could provide significant benefits to people and the environment as well as the rural economy. We need to focus on these trees rather than take them for granted and part of this is identifying and planting ‘improved’ trees which are productive, healthy and adaptable”.

Forest Research’s Chief Executive, Dr James Pendlebury stressed the need for prompt action:

“Just as animals and crops have always been bred to enhance desirable traits, the same thing can be done with trees. But it takes a lot longer to achieve results so we need to act now if we want to secure the future of our broadleaf tree populations”.

 

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