I was given a copy of the National Wood Strategy for England recently and read it from glossy cover to glossy cover, with great interest.

Clearly a lot of people have put a tremendous amount of hard work in to compiling such a document, but, in my humble opinion, nothing significant will change unless the following are addressed:

1. Forestry is recognised as a long-term business and taken out of the short-sighted political arena.

2. Are all players in the supply chain signed up to the reports objective?

3. When does the strategy start?

4. What are the penalties for non-achievement year on year of the report’s objectives?


5. Is there sufficient money and resources to complete this ambitious programme?

6. Legislation would need to be passed to address the serious damage being done, particularly to hardwood species, by squirrels and deer.

7. Who would oversee to ensure targets are met, with no ‘back-sliding’?

I have seen many reports come and go. Has the industry, our industry, got the bottle and ability to make a real step change?

Andy Chalmers, Melcourt Industries, Gloucestershire


Every so often a light is shone on a serious point which everyone seems to have missed. One such light was beamed by John McNee, editor of Forestry Journal, in his ‘Letter from the Editor’ prefacing the February 2024 issue.

Writing about widespread New Year flooding and its extensive coverage in the national and regional press, he emphasised the need for more tree planting not least for flood defences, then added, apparently as an afterthought, “not that this point was ever raised in any of the news reports I saw”.

Absolutely right, and as an avid news watcher and reader myself it is something I had completely missed. And something so basic, because everyone knows or should know that woodland plantings absorb rainwater, reduce erosion and thereby slow down water flow rates. Beaver reintroductions are a classic case in point. Furry and cuddly native mammals are boosts to biodiversity, but with little said about how the beaver’s tree felling, dam building and water resource creation slows down water flow rates and thereby mitigates flooding.

Conservative MP Flick Drummond recently sent a leaflet to her Meon Valley constituents in Hampshire asking them to stop flushing the ‘carsey’, taking baths and using washing machines during “heavy downpours” to prevent sewage spills.

So how on earth does not flushing the loo during downpours prevent raw human sewage polluting our waterways? That’s because most of Britain’s sewage network was built using a so-called ‘combined’ system which means waste water and surface rainwater go down the same ‘hole’ with the whole lot ferried to the sewage works, which releases the lot into the river because it can’t cope with the volumes. 

There’s your answer – plant more trees in Meon Valley to reduce the amount of surface rainwater run-off.

Dr Terry Mabbett