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Forestry Recommissioned

Quality not quantity is the key for England’s woodlands, says new Plantlife report

November 26 2011

Woodland at Ranscombe Farm reserve. © Plantlife

Woodland at Ranscombe Farm reserve. © Plantlife

With the Independent Panel on Forestry’s first statement just weeks away, Plantlife shifts the focus from ownership with a report which shows that, despite there being more woodland than 20 years ago, our woodland flora, butterflies and birds are still declining. More woodland is too simple a response – we need better woodland.

Woodland wildlife in decline – some key facts:

- The Public Forest Estate is vital for England’s local, rare and declining wild flowers. More than a third occur on PFE land, including 95% of the UK population of military orchid

- One in six woodland flowers is threatened with extinction

- The Woodland Bird Indicator is at its lowest level since 1970

- The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme shows a 56% decrease in characteristic woodland butterflies

Plantlife’s new report Forestry Recommissioned: bringing England's woodlands back to life, published today, reveals that a lack of management has led to darker woods where plants cannot flourish and, as they have declined, so has the wildlife that depends on them.

'Over the last 50 years, England’s woodlands have become increasingly dark, overgrown and silent' says Victoria Chester, Plantlife’s Chief Executive. 'Plantlife has a vision which will bring them back to life.'

'The Government’s ambition of creating thousands of hectares of new woodland in England every year is missing the point. Plantlife is not against more woodland but the reality is that newly planted woods will take years to have any real conservation value – whilst some of our really special ancient woodlands, in some cases home to England’s rarer flowers and wildlife, are slowly but surely going down the pan.'

'More trees do not equal more wildlife' agrees Andy Byfield, Plantlife’s Landscape Conservation Manager. 'From the point of view of our woodland wildlife, it is what we do with our woods that counts.'

'We need to put less emphasis on the quantity of woodland and focus instead on the quality of its management, so we can rescue our woodlands from a dark and dull future. Both public and private woodland owners need to take a more informed and active approach.'

Click on the following for further information:

For more information about the report, please call Andy Byfield, Plantlife’s Landscape Conservation Manager and one of the report’s main authors on M 07816 945650 / E andy.byfield@plantlife.org.uk.

For images or a PDF of the report, please call or email Justina Simpson, Plantlife’s Press Officer, on T: 01722 342757 / M: 07584 995929 / E: justina.simpson@plantlife.org.uk.