PLANTING and managing trees in the UK to produce wood can also deliver a host of biodiversity benefits, a new report argues.

Following Forestry Minister Lord Godsmith's recent call for a "colossal endevour" to more than double existing planting rates by 2025, industry body Confor has produced an analysis of evidence to show that forests planted in the UK for wood production have 'significant value' as biodiversity habitats.

The Biodiversity, Forestry and Wood Report sees policy researcher Eleanor Harris argue that suitably-sited forests for wood production can deliver great benefits to wildlife, and that appropriate harvesting from native woodland can often enhance its biodiversity value.

Feedback for the report was received from organisations including Butterfly Conservation, British Trust for Ornithology, and WWF Scotland.

The report also states that better management of all forests (including native woodlands) to produce wood will benefit wildlife, support local jobs and reduce imports. New productive woodland can also buffer biodiversity-rich ancient woodland and provide species corridors.

Stuart Goodall, Confor CEO, said: “For many years, the biodiversity value of wood-producing forests and managed woodland of all types has been under-valued and under-recognised.

“As we face climate and nature emergencies, it’s vital that all suitable action is taken and that we base our actions on evidence. This analysis argues that well-managed forests can deliver positive climate and biodiversity benefits.”

Mr Goodall said that in order to meet the UK Government's planting target of 30,000 ha of new woodland annually by 2025, the confidence to embrace all types of new planting is needed.

“Modern productive forests avoid trade-offs between tackling climate change or promoting biodiversity. They also deliver green jobs, economic growth at a time of recession and the low-carbon, renewable wood products that we use so much in our daily lives."

He added: “I recognise the criticism of how some forests were planted last century. My call is for people to judge the sector on the forests we are planting now.

“With this report we want to inform the debate, to add another string to the bow of efforts to tackle climate change and promote nature, and to focus energy on solutions and action.”

Read the report here.

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