New nature zones each covering thousands of hectares are to be set up across England, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman revealed yesterday.
The 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs) will each get a share of £7.5 million to create wildlife-rich landscapes, restore habitats and encourage local people to get involved with nature.
The Forestry Commission is very pleased and impressed to see the principles supporting woodlands all in the winning NIAs. There will be no overall deforestation when creating open habitats with new woodlands created. The use of woodlands to improve water quality and managing them for wildlife habitats has very high profile in many NIAs.
Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair explained:
"These are fantastic projects filled with ambition and vision. Our own Senior Ecologist was on the judging panel for the NIAs and although few of the projects involve major woodland programmes, he was delighted to see the excellent principles underpinning the winning proposals."
"New woodlands have the security of commitments to ongoing management which will benefit wildlife, improve water quality and produce timber or woodfuel to support the local green economy. Where trees have to be removed to restore open habitats, new woodlands will be planted and the material from the felling will be used locally for woodfuel. We hope that all landscape-scale projects in the future will adopt the same high standards."
Nature Improvement Areas were a flagship policy contained in last year's Natural Environment White Paper 'The Natural Choice' which set out aims to improve the quality of the natural environment across England, halt the decline in habitats and species, and strengthen the connection between people and nature.
For more information about the Forestry Commission visit www.forestry.gov.uk