... but we are planting more

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The Independent Online
THE FORESTS and woodlands of England are to be substantially expanded, with the rate of tree planting likely to double over the next five years, the Government promised yesterday.

The plan will bring jobs to the countryside, new life to derelict land, opportunities for leisure and tourism and safe havens for wildlife, said Elliot Morley, the Agriculture minister, launching the England Forestry Strategy.

The new programme, to be followed by separate strategies for Wales and Scotland, is believed to be the first practical result of the Government's devolution proposals, and the first major forward-looking policy to deal with England alone.

The strategy's main thrust is that forests will have multiple purposes, rather than being the tree farms that blighted much of the post-war landscape with serried ranks of dark conifers.

"The days of acres and acres of Sitka spruce, are over," Mr Morley said. "Woods and forests boast the most diverse range of benefits, for both people and wildlife, of any land use, but we have not yet begun to realise their potential fully. Foresters are, for the first time, looking outwards ... and saying, `look how forestry can help you'."