Rory’s think-tank manifesto for Penrith and the Border’s Woodlands

A local think-tank, formed by Rory, has submitted an ambitious proposal for Penrith and the Border’s woodlands to the Independent Forestry Panel (IFP) on the occasion of its visit to Cumbria. The think-tank’s ambitious “fifty-year vision” for Penrith and the Border, includes ensuring an increase in commercial wood supply; that investment in apprenticeships and education opportunities in forestry is made, ensuring a growing workforce and utilising the School of Forestry at Newton Rigg agricultural college; that any increased woodland cover be planned with full engagement of farming communities, commoners’ associations and landowners, and that any such planting be ecologically resilient and recognise Cumbria’s unique cultural and farming uplands landscape; and that more schemes enhancing social benefits to communities be introduced.

Rory’s  think-tank was formed in 2011 in response to the high level of public interest in this policy area. It consists of representatives from industry, heritage organisations, charities, education, the public sector, and charitable and scientific groups. It has had numerous in-depth discussions around the Government’s changing forestry policy. The group now aims to draft a comprehensive constituency position statement ahead of the IFP’s report to DEFRA Ministers.

Rory said: “Penrith and the Border is a record-breaker in terms of the size of our wood processing and timber harvesting industries and their contribution to the UK’s economy. We believe that our woodlands can and should deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits; a long-term policy vision is needed in order to safeguard the future sustainability of our forests: short-term policies of 10-15 years do not protect the growing cycle of woodlands of 30-50 years, which is something that I have emphasised to the IFP.”

The visit by the IFP to Cumbria on was expected to focus on economic development and tourism, looking also at projects in which private woodland management has diversified to increase public access; at public forest attractions and leisure opportunities; and an industry lunch with AW Jenkinsons and colleagues, to hear the opinions of the county’s processors.

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