Letter: Woods in peril

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Emmet Donegan's letter "Trees under attack" (11 June), provides a timely reminder of the absence of adequate protection for our trees and woods.

It was disappointing that the draft regulations published last year taking forward the 1994 Tree Preservation Order (TPO) Review were more notable for the amount of power they delegated to local planning authorities than for addressing matters such as increased penalties for illegal felling. The main statement of government advice to local authorities on woodland in England and Wales, Circular 36/78 Trees and Forestry, is over 20 years old and in need of substantial revision.

Nowhere, however, is the absence of proper protection for our trees and woods more apparent than in relation to ancient woodland. Ancient woodland is one of the great, irreplaceable glories of our natural heritage and home to more threatened species than any other habitat in the UK, yet it continues to be subject to alarming losses due to development pressures, particularly in the South-east. The England Forestry Strategy promises to review the effectiveness of existing protection for ancient woodland but it is crucial that this commitment is acted upon as a matter of urgency and that similar pledges are forthcoming across the whole of the UK.

MIKE TOWNSEND

Chief Executive

The Woodland Trust

Grantham, Lincolnshire

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