Forests: Conservation

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 14 July 2022.

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Photo of James Davies James Davies Conservative, Vale of Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will make its policy to introduce a Great British rainforests strategy.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The international importance of temperate rainforests (also termed Atlantic woodland) in supporting rare and threatened species has been recognised in domestic biodiversity policy for many decades. Many temperate rainforests are protected by existing policy. Many are ancient woodlands, which are protected from development in all but wholly exceptional circumstances. We have also committed in the England Trees Action Plan to increase protections in the planning system for long established woodland in situ since 1840. Many of our temperate rainforests support rich assemblages of species and are in our series of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). SSSI selection guidelines for woodlands are focused on securing a representative series rather than protecting every example.

This government has made a world-leading commitment to halt the decline in nature by 2030, which will rely on the restoration and creation of habitats across the country. This will be supported by funding from the Nature for Climate Fund, future farming schemes including Landscape Recovery, and new funds such as the Big Nature Impact Fund. We will consider, while designing and rolling out these schemes, how they might support the protection and restoration of certain types of woodlands including ‘temperate rainforest’. We also provide financial support to the buffering and expansion of valuable woodlands such as temperate rainforests through the England Woodland Creation Offer, and funding for the improvement and restoration of temperate rainforest sites through the Regional Restoration Funds.

We are currently working on the revision of the 25 Year Environment Plan, the next Environmental Improvement Plan, due January 2023. This is the overarching strategy for the environment, as set out in the Environment Act, and where relevant we will consider the role of temperate rainforest in helping to meet our substantial environmental commitments.

Forestry policy is devolved, so the protection and restoration of temperate rainforests outside England is a matter for the devolved authorities.

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