On 4 July 2012 the Independent Panel on Forestry published its Final Report which is available to download here:
The Panel’s chair, the Right Reverend Bishop James Jones said:
“The Panel’s work over the last year has shown that our woodlands, managed sustainably, can offer solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing society today. We have consulted widely, visited woods and forests around the country and read over 42,000 submissions.
There is untapped potential within England’s woodlands to create jobs, to sustain skills and livelihoods, to improve the health and wellbeing of people and to provide better and more connected places for nature.
Government investment is now needed to kick start these changes which will repay itself many times over in terms of public benefit”
The report calls for England’s woods and forests to be re-valued for all the benefits they provide. These include areas for recreation, clean air, clean water, and habitats for wildlife. They also lock up carbon, provide shade and can help reduce flooding. Wood is the raw material for timber frame buildings, furniture, flooring, fuel, and of course paper. The report calls for a revival of a woodland culture that appreciates how important trees are for people, for nature and the economy.
The report also makes clear that the Panel believes the public forest estate is a national asset, which should remain in public ownership. The Panel recommends an evolution of the Forestry Commission. The new organisations should have greater financial freedoms and investment to generate even greater benefits for people, nature and the economy.