A Confor report, presented to Secretary of State Caroline Spelman, explains how forestry can provide over 7,000 new jobs in areas of rural deprivation in England. In delivering these jobs, carbon will also be reduced and biodiversity improved.Forestry can be an engine of rural, green growth in these circumstances. |
Stuart Goodall, Confor chief executive, explains, “Many rural areas of England suffer from deprivation with few job opportunities. These areas also contain a lot of forestry, much of it unmanaged. Stimulating forestry and wood-processing activity across England would be a low-cost way of creating thousands of jobs and improving the environment.”
Confor had previously submitted a draft of the report to the Independent Panel on Forestry, as well as to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Defra and the Business, Innovation and Skills department. All were very interested in the work and feedback was provided. Since then Confor has finalised the report, strengthening the data around the job numbers. While the report refers to England, much of the content is equally valid elsewhere in the UK.
The report, titled Forestry: 7,000 Green Jobs and Low-carbon Growth, calls for government action to promote the use of wood in construction, including through a ‘Wood First’ policy in public procurement, as well as support for new productive planting, investment in local woodfuel, and infrastructure grants to support bringing woodland back into management.
The cost to government is estimated at £20 million, principally for new planting. A number of benefits would accrue: tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon would be removed from the atmosphere every year and more home-grown wood products would be produced. Confor has calculated that the growth in domestic wood manufacturing over the last 30 years now saves the UK £1 billion a year in reduced imports.
Stuart commented, “This is a massive opportunity to deliver on the government’s green jobs agenda, while delivering wider environmental and societal benefits. The proposed actions are achievable and low-cost, and 7,000 jobs is a big number.
“The opportunity is there if government has the courage to grasp it”.