17/03/2014
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New strategy for forest management and creation announced

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On Friday 14th March, the Forestry Commission launched a new Science and Innovation Strategy for the coming six years, which can be read and downloaded at the Forestry Commission publications webpage. Research commissioned to deliver the strategy will help to keep the UK as a world leader in understanding, developing and delivering sustainable forest management and woodland creation. Sustainably managed forests and woodlands provide long term benefits to the economy, society and the environment.

Forestry Minister Dan Rogerson commented: "Investment in public science supports opportunities for a whole range of organisations, whether public or private. The important research that will come as a result of the new Science and Innovation Strategy for forestry in Great Britain will help to provide knowledge, evidence and skilled people to help address future challenges across tree health, adapting to extreme weather events, future forestry practice and many other related areas. This evidence and knowledge will allow the forestry sector to deliver a wide range of sustainable benefits from trees and woodlands to support a stronger British Economy."

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport added: "I very much welcome the launch of this new strategy for forestry in Great Britain. In times of change, forestry needs long-term continuity and this is helped by having a rich and robust evidence base to inform policy and practice."

The strategy's projects will provide the evidence base for delivering long-term, sustainable health and wellbeing benefits of trees and woodlands to people; steer practical woodland management and expansion; help to direct environmentally sustainable land-use change and direct a wide range of sustainable benefits from trees and woodlands to support economic growth in Britain.

Roger Coppock, Head of Analysts for the Forestry Commission, said: "Science is not an end in itself. Research should inform forestry policy and guide forestry practice to ensure that Britain's forests and woodlands continue to be managed to be sustainable and resilient. This knowledge base will be open and accessible to create an environment that stimulates innovation and the development of products and services that will be of benefit to both the forestry sector and wider society. The research commissioned under our last strategy produced research notes, practice guides and field guides. They have improved understanding, led further research and changed practical activities on the ground. This important work is ongoing. Just today we have released a diverse range of new guidance on tree gene conservation, brownfield regeneration and water acidification. Our research agency, Forest Research, has many of the science and technical skills needed to implement the strategy and will continue to provide the high quality, peer-reviewed research needed to underpin the Commission's policies and advice to Government."

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Research programmes will integrate social, biological, and physical sciences to deliver more effective impacts. The strategy also recognises the links between economics, social science, and resource description, and these will be reflected in the research programmes. The strategy was developed with stakeholders from England, Scotland and Wales during 2012 and on a public consultation exercise in 2013. They endorsed the strategic outcomes, and helped to identify the key research areas for the next generation of research programmes. The research will involve all three countries, reflecting their priorities and addressing current and emerging challenges on cross border issues such as biodiversity, plant health, and climate change.

Responsibility for the strategy, and its research programmes, lies with the Forestry Commission Research Strategy Management Board. The Board is chaired by the Forestry Commission's Head of Corporate and Forestry Support and membership comprises senior policy leads from Forestry Commission England and Scotland, along with the Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments, the Forestry Commission's Chief Scientific Advisor, and the Forestry Commission's Head of Analysts.

Written by: Forestry Commission