Millions of trees felled in UK forestry crisis

A A A

A crisis in the UK's forestry industry has forced the destruction of millions of sap-lings, according to one of the UK's largest tree growers.

A crisis in the UK's forestry industry has forced the destruction of millions of sap-lings, according to one of the UK's largest tree growers.

In the latest episode of an orgy of felling uneconomic trees that has bedevilled the industry in recent years, the privately-owned Maelor Nurseries is having to close a big nursery in Scotland. On the eve of its harvest, Maelor has also started destroying saplings planted just three years ago on its Welsh Borders' farm. Millions more will have to go, the company predicts.

Ironically, Britain is the world's second-biggest importer of timber, buying £6.5bn of wood from overseas every year, according to official statistics. Only 20 per cent of wood consumed in the UK is grown in this country.

At the same time, Britain has sunk near to the bottom of Europe's afforestation table. Only 10.5 per cent of British land is now wooded thanks to a steady decline in commercial planting. A damning report by the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) highlighted a particularly worrying decline in the planting of conifers and broad-leaved varieties. The HTA is also critical of much of the planting which has gone on, condemning the use of cheap and unregulated foreign stock likely to have a negative environmental impact.

Britain's forestry problems have been aggravated by the actions of conservationists, industry figures say, even though groups like Greenpeace oppose the indiscriminate felling in the virgin forests of developing countries. The creation of commercially sustainable forestry in the UK has been frustrated by interest groups concerned about the impact on local wildlife. Michael Harvey, managing director of Maelor Nurseries, believes the opposition is misconceived.

"Modern forestry is no longer concerned with the monotonous conifer planting that was popular before the 1980s," he says. "We believe that such an important subject should be viewed in the global context and controlled through more public debate."

Mr Harvey also blames red tape for the destruction of 15 million new trees which was forced on Maelor last year. Not even the awarding of a series of lottery grants to fund millennium planting projects has been enough to stem the tide of felling.

The impact of the trend has been felt beyond the industry, especially in remote parts of the country where forestry has traditionally been one of the most important employers.

In the light of the crisis, Mr Harvey is calling for an urgent review of the Government's forestry policy. He believes that the UK should take a leaf out of the books of Holland and Ireland, where forestry's positive environmental effects - for example, its ability to reduce carbon in the atmosphere - are factored into the equation when planting policy is formulated.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific