Sir Harry Studholme: Forestry is about people – departing Forestry Commission
People have strong views about trees. This energy is inspirational. If we can align this energy with the Forestry Commission’s expertise in partnership and delivering policies and the practical skills of the private forestry sector, we will have a powerful resource. The challenge will be to get agreement among passionate people. However, good science, including importantly the work of Forest Research, is critical and needs be at the heart of developing what is likely to be not one but many approaches. What matters most is informed and practical action – now more than ever.
Our public forests must remain exemplars of sustainable multi-purpose forestry by responding to diverse future needs. Forestry England was the first part of Government to prepare Natural Capital Accounts and these provide a benchmark. The Estate is already the country’s largest provider of outdoor recreation welcoming some 24 million visitors a year in 226 million visits, but it needs to and is broadening its appeal. While taking good care of our myriad of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, we must build on current creative ideas for improving nature such as our reintroductions of species from water voles and pine martens to sea eagles and beavers. All of this whilst remaining the country’s largest supplier of timber. The Forestry Commission in England celebrated its first century last year, but that will count for nothing if we do not continue to use all its valuable experience as a base for the future.
The opportunity to work with forests and the people who care for them, including inside the Forestry Commission, has been a privilege. I know the Commission will go from strength to strength under its new chair William Worsley and I would like personally to thank all those who have helped, advised and supported me. Thank you.