Letter: Need to create varied forests

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report today ('Taxpayers hit by pounds 2.5bn bill for blunders', 23 December), analysing the National Audit Office's reports in 1993, refers to its study of the Foresty Commission's operations in timber harvesting and marketing and attributes 'waste' to our having 'felled trees at the wrong age'.

The Public Accounts Committee, in its report on the study, noted its concern that trees had been felled at an age when they do not produce their maximum economic return. In its response to this report, the Government pointed out a number of reasons for this, including the effects of storm damage, adjustments to reflect differences between expected and actual levels of timber stocks, the creation of felling areas that are operationally efficient, and environmental reasons.

The Forestry Commission has a statutory duty to seek to achieve a reasonable balance between the needs of forestry and the environment. The Government's forestry policy encourages the restructuring and landscaping of even-age plantations to create more varied forests with a mixture of types and ages of trees.

This has cost money - in terms of income foregone - but the results are increasingly appreciated. It is a measure of the commission's objectives to ensure the right trees are felled at the right time, to create productive forests for the future and, at the same time, enhance Britain's countryside.

Yours sincerely,

ROBIN CUTLER

Director General

Forestry Commission

Edinburgh

23 December

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