LORD REDESDALE WILLING TO LEAD A COMMUNITY BID FOR KIELDER FOREST
Following today’s publication of the Independent Forestry Panel’s report covering the future of the England’s Public Forest estate, a leading Liberal peer and resident of the Kielder community in the North East, has announced he is willing to lead a community bid to acquire a long lease for the largest man made forest in Europe at Kielder.
Lord Redesdale, also known for his work as chair of the Red Squirrel Protection Partnership, said:
“The Report has set out a structure which will allow communities to bid for a long lease to be managed by the suggested independent board of trustees which would deliver the three objectives of ecology, access and investment in a green economy. It is for this reason that I am willing to lead a funded community bid for my local Forest, Kielder, to meet the vision set out in the report.
“We have already had initial consultations with local residents about the future of the forest. Their key concerns surround the severe lack of investment in the forest and therefore in jobs, which, over the years, has led to a depopulation of the area. Clearly, further consultation with the wider community in and around the area will be necessary to inform any business plan we wish to create together.”
Lord Redesdale believes that the model he is proposing for Kielder, with the community at its heart, could provide a national blueprint for a sustainable future for England’s forest estate. He also points out that any business plan will require a significant amount of investment in the forest’s infrastructure in order to realise its full potential.
He said: “Any model for the future of England’s forestry needs to address the most pressing issue affecting our forests today – lack of investment. It is likely, therefore, that any proposal put forward by the Kielder community and led by me will comprise a model for the stewardship and management of the Public Forest Estate with the community at its heart, developed, financed and operated in partnership with the private sector and supported and regulated by the Forestry Commission.
“This tri-partite model allows each party to contribute their complementary skills in a framework which is capable of delivering the maximum triple bottom line benefits for each forest for the environment, people and the economy. This should include increasing the percentage of woodland, both public and private, that is actively managed and support the creation of more woodland, while defending and maintaining open access and improving the ecology of Kielder.
“Ideally the model will be adaptable for use across all forests and communities in England, taking into account the differences between amenity and commercial forests. Crucially, it must be sustainable in the long-term, independent of electoral cycles, and be able to adapt to climate change, as well as evolving ecosystems throughout the 21st century and beyond.”
“I believe that if the community was successful in a bid for Kielder, we could ensure that new investment would see the forest become the engine of the local economy, thus reversing the current downward trend.”