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Thumbs up for ‘stand-alone’ decision for Forest Services England
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Simon Lloyd, RFS Development Director: "The RFS applauds the Government's decision to keep Forest Services England as a stand-alone organisation"

Date Issued: 05 July 2013

 

The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) has applauded the announcement that the functions currently performed by Forest Services England – the Government’s forestry advice and grants experts – will remain a separate organisation rather than being merged with Natural England, but warns against further budget cuts which could impact on its ability to deliver the Government’s stated objective to protect, improve and expand woodlands.

RFS Development Director Simon Lloyd says:

“We are delighted the Government has listened to concerns and fears raised by the RFS and many others that any merger would take focus off the need to protect our woods and trees against pests and diseases and bring more woods into management.

“Bearing in mind the well-established economic and environmental benefits of bringing neglected woods into management, we urge the Government to focus on their ambition to increase woodland in management from 53% now to 66% in 5 years time, rather than on cuts which could threaten delivery.”

Defra’s Review of forestry functions and organisational arrangements for their delivery in England was unveiled to the National Forest Forum in London on July 3. It states that:

“...the benefits of merging Government’s forestry and conservation functions were outweighed by those of keeping Government’s forestry functions together as an integrated whole, with a clear and specific focus on delivering forestry and woodlands policy and its economic underpinning. This continues to provide the best means of delivering forestry and woodlands policy and a clear interface for forestry stakeholders.”

The report signals the need for further study of the options for implementing the report’s recommendations, which may result in organisational change to simplify governance and to implement more efficiency savings to meet Government budget cuts.