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Forests: Conservation

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 110592, tabled on 24 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take steps to protect and restore Britain’s temperate rainforests.

Answered on

8 February 2022

This government recognises the importance of trees and woodlands, and has ambitious targets to treble tree planting in England as part of a UK wide commitment to establish 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this Parliament. This sits alongside our work to protect existing woodland, particularly ancient woodland. The England Trees Action Plan will help to deliver this by seeing an unprecedented number of trees planted, protected and managed to deliver more for society, nature, the climate and the economy.

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 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 selection guidelines for woodlands are focussed 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 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.

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