Saturday 27 February 2010

A Forestry Manifesto for England’s Northwest

Imagine, for a moment, asking a team of gifted engineers to invent a single device that could absorb and then lock up carbon, provide a carbon neutral building material or energy source, help stabilise vulnerable soils, provide a flood management system and offer a source of shade and cooling as the planet’s temperatures begin to rise.

And then imagine asking them to make it a beautiful and inspiring object too, one that created a wildlife habitat and pollution filter, to boot, an object that made virtually every human being feel happier.

Trees – they hold so many answers. Which is why it’s time in our region to make much more of forestry and woodlands.

I chair the Forestry Framework for England’s Northwest and, this week, had my tenure renewed for two more years. More importantly, I presented and had accepted a shared manifesto for forestry across the region that will set a clear target for planting more trees: we want to double woodland cover within a generation - by 2050. See the post below for the presentation I gave on Thursday.

Our manifesto is shaped around seven points, with woodland creation as a starting point:

We will radically increase tree planting and double woodland cover.

We will bring a cool green revolution to our towns and cities.

We will play a major part in tackling climate change.

We will produce more timber and use more timber.

We will support green jobs and sustainable skills.

We will help to create healthier and happier communities.

We will transform our region’s image, from the field to the city.

These are the seven points that embrace our region’s singular opportunity: to place trees and woodland centre stage in our region’s future. We want to double our regional woodland cover by 2050 and in the process deliver a greener, lower carbon and more prosperous future to forthcoming generations.

This ambition is the focus of our forestry manifesto and is borne out of a desire to tackle climate change head on, to improve our region’s image, provide a richer and more accessible natural environment and to create genuine opportunities for job creation and enterprise.

This manifesto sits alongside our more extensive Forestry Framework, Agenda for Growth, which has been drawn up by a host of stakeholders, experts and government agencies to monitor and shape the woodland and forestry sector in our region for the next twenty years. With six action areas and dozens of specific priorities the Framework has a wider focus than this companion manifesto, which is tightly structured around a singular goal: double our region’s woodland cover.

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