Industry News

Confor illustrates importance of anti-flood tree planting at Forestry APPG debate

Confor delegates recently attended a debate on flooding and tree planting at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry in Westminster.

The APPG heard from Confor's Technical Director Andrew Heald, Tom Nisbet of Forest Research and Austin Brady from The Woodland Trust about the practical ways planting trees can help reduce flood risks as part of broader package of natural flood management measures.

Mr Heald presented Confor's new discussion paper, Forestry and Flooding, and Mr Neil Parish (MP for Tiverton and Honiton and member of Timber Industries APPG) asked a series of probing questions of the experts on the practical issues of planting more trees and the impact this would have on farming and local communities.

Ms Anne-Marie Trevelyan (MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and member of Timber Industries APPG) explained how her proposal to increase tree planting from 11 million to 200 million trees by 2020 has being discussed by the UK Government.

Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall, who facilitated the APPGF discussion alongside Chris Davies MP, commented: "This was an excellent and constructive meeting with a range of different bodies debating what practical actions can be taken to move things forward. It is now all about where and how to plant trees in upland river catchments, not whether to do it."

"The Group was attended by a wide range of interested parties - Forestry Commission England, The Green Party and the House of Parliament's Office of Science and Technology as well as The Woodland Trust and Forest Research - as it is really important to build a broad consensus on this important issue", Mr Goodall added.


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PEFC announces upcoming Chain of Custody Training schedule

PEFC has announced the dates of its Chain of Custody training.

The training programs include: Individual auditor training webinars (online only) - to take place on 10 May 2016 and 6-7 July 2016 - and a PEFC Training Recognition Program (TRP) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 24-25 May 2016.

The sessions provide companies, certification bodies, auditors and accreditation bodies with Chain of Custody Training to ensure they are updated on changes to the standard and on interpretation and explanation of specific requirements.

This enables them to consistently apply the chain of custody requirements in daily practice, and allows PEFC to exchange experiences and receive valuable feedback on the implementation of the standard.

For more information and reservation click here or or email [email protected].

Confor presses Scottish Government on planting targets

Confor has urged Scottish Government to do more to meet its announced woodland plants targets.

In November 2015, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon promised to deliver 100,000 hectares of new woodland in the decade to 2022, but the process has still a long way to go.

In particular planting targets could be affected by the long and complex approving applications process, exacerbated by the switch to a new computer system.

"We welcome the Scottish Government's planting ambitions, but if we are to deliver their targets, we need to get everything working better, whether it's new computer systems now or the process of approving new planting schemes in future", said Confor Chief Executive Stuart Goodall.

"Initially, the target required 10,000 hectares of new planting a year. We have not been meeting this and Confor calculates that we now need around 13,000 hectares a year to hit the target by 2022. This needs to include 8-9,000 hectares annually of productive conifer species - softwoods which supply the timber needed by Scotland's wood processing businesses. They are investing around £50 million a year, but need the long-term supply of wood guaranteed", Mr. Goodall adedd.

Forestry and wood processing represent a vital portion of Scottish Economy - as recently highilighted by a Forestry Commission Scotland report - contributing £1 billion to Scotland's economy and employing thousands of workers.

"If we plant now, we secure the future of rural communities where forestry and timber is becoming a real bedrock employer, from tree nurseries through to hi-tech sawmills. Planting trees also soaks up carbon and helps to prevent flooding by 'slowing the flow' of water in upland areas - as well as providing great habitats for wildlife and for recreation", said Mr. Goodall.

"We will also be discussing with Aileen McLeod (Scottish Forestry MInister e.d.) the importance of the government continuing to provide funding for the Strategic Timber Transport Fund. This fund has been enormously helpful in taking timber off rural roads - by creating new forest roads to bypass local communities. Where that is not possible, it has supplemented local authority's roads budgets to improve minor roads to make them fit for purpose for today's needs", Confor CEO concluded.

Confor releases new documentary on Timber supply chain

'Our forests, our people'

Confor has recently released a short documentary called - 'Our Forests, Our People' - aimed to showcase the economic, social and environmental importance of the UK Timber Supply Chain.

The video, produced in collaboration with Heehaw agency, offers spectacular aerial shots and an impressive insight to the sector through the voices of the people who work for forestry and timber businesses.

"This video is a great tool for us to promote the modern-day success story of Forestry and Timber", said Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor. "The forestry and timber sector has a great story to tell, but we need to tell it more effectively. This video and the other materials we are working on will really help."

EU launches study to assess its deforestation footprint

As reported by FERN, the EU has launched a study, to be completed by August 2016, to assess how to tackle deforestation.

The final report, conducted by three consultant organisations - COWI, Milieu and Ecofys - should lead to a challenging European Action Plan on deforestation.

The consortium will examine a wide range of policies suggesting where improvements could be made. These policies include Trade and Investment, Common Commercial Policy, Development and International Cooperation, the Internal Market, Agriculture and Fisheries, Environment, Consumer Protection, Energy, Climate Change, Sustainable Production and Consumption, as well as EU and international forest policies, including the FLEGT Action Plan. 

It is estimated that, between 1990 and 2008, the EU imported 36 per cent of all traded crops associated with deforestation. According to the preliminary 'Feasibility study on an EU Action Plan on deforestation' some 13 million hectares of forests are lost every year (source: FAO). "Competing and often conflicting demands for land are likely to grow further towards 2050, when 9 billion people will be sharing one planet and its limited resources, under changing climate patterns and socio-economic conditions", the study explains.

"To date, the land on which forest grows is often considered more valuable than the standing forest itself. Deforestation accounts for some 20% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (IPCC, 2007) – more than the total EU greenhouse gas emissions. Addressing deforestation is therefore a cost-effective way to combat climate change and, at the same time, conserving biodiversity and securing better livelihoods."