2012 has been an interesting year for those concerned with woods and forests. We’ve seen the outputs from the Independent Panel on Forestry and we’ve had the British Woodlands Survey - not to mention ash dieback. A recent conference gave voice to those woodland workers, owners, and managers who took part in the survey, providing a fresh perspective on the importance of woodlands. For woodland owners, woodlands are much less profitable today than they were 50 years ago. Thankfully, the recent fashion for wood-burning stoves has led to demand for wood fuel that provides a welcome income.
However, woods and forests provide much more to us than products alone and a key message of the conference was that Britain needs to revive its wood culture – the awareness and appreciation of woodlands and forests. They are essential habitats for both wildlife and humans, somewhere to escape to and enjoy whether it be walking, bird watching or biking.
The conference featured a great diversity of speakers from both Oxford and Cambridge University, the Sylva Foundation, the Woodland Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Earth Trust, Natural England and the Crown Estate, and also views from forest managers, forest owners and even BBC presenters!