CLA: New opportunity to create stronger forestry sector post-Brexit

04 December 2017

Brexit offers a real opportunity to provide more forestry and woodland, timber and environmental benefits if the Government makes the right policies to reward farmers and landowners for planting more trees, according to the CLA.

The CLA whose members own 10 million acres of rural land in England and Wales, with just under one third actively managing forestry and woodland says forestry has the potential to play a greater role in delivering both environmental and economic benefits if the public, government, landowners and farmers can work together to develop the right the policy for the countryside outside of the EU.

New CLA Vice President Mark Tufnell will deliver his first official speech at a conference exploring how a post-Brexit countryside policy should look on Wednesday (29 November). Mr Tufnell, who owns and manages a traditional estate in the Cotswolds, will tell the conference organised by Confor, that the CLA’s idea for a Land Management Contract will remunerate farmers and land managers for delivering environmental and public benefits such as planting more trees to help clean the air we breathe, carbon sequestration and flood alleviation.

He will say: “We want to see a policy that enables more profitable farming and forestry businesses through improved productivity, competitiveness and resilience, as part of a wider thriving rural economy.

“Our proposal for a land management contract is a radical shift from the acreage based farm payment structure to one that rewards farmers and landowners for delivering a range of benefits on behalf of society as a whole. It gives them a choice to undertake measures such as improving soil and water quality in return for public money if they agree to conditions that are transparent, easy to administer and demonstrate value for money for the taxpayer.”

The CLA published this radical post-Brexit vision for the future of food, farming and the environment earlier the year. Alongside the proposal for a Land Management Contract, the CLA policy also includes measures to improve the profitability of farming and continued funding for wider rural prosperity. Read the CLA’s Food, Farming and Environmental Policy in full:

Mr Tufnell will conclude that Brexit must be seized as a new opportunity to do things differently.

He will say: “A system that rewards landowners and farmers for delivering environmental and public benefits while also seeking to improve the profitability of farming and growing wider rural prosperity has the potential to ensure that the rural economy thrives and continues to be supported in the long term.

“However, we must take our time in getting to this position and ensure that adequate transition measures are put in place. Guaranteed funding for the next five years is an important part of this.”