Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Oliver Rackham comments on Ancient Woodlands and Biodiversity Offsetting.  

The following comments regarding ancient woodlands and biodiversity offsetting have been received from Professor Oliver Rackham (University of Cambridge), who is currently on a visit to the USA

"Others will probably point out that the Secretary of State is repeating the old canard that planting trees is a substitute for conserving trees: that woodland can be created at will on any land that no-one else happens to want. But there are other aspects that should not be overlooked.

     He has not caught up with the new fact that tree-planting is no longer a beneficial and risk-free activity: it carries a risk to existing trees.
Planting on the scale that he envisages could not be supported by the domestic nursery trade and would result in more importing of foreign trees and foreign soil and foreign tree diseases - as witness Ash Disease.
Planting trees on an industrial scale promotes globalization of tree diseases, which has recently emerged as the most serious of all threats to the world's trees and forests.

    I gather from what has reached me at third hand that the Secretary of State is advocating something like the 'land-banking' that is official policy in New South Wales. It is highly controversial there, especially as it is an incentive to corruption. I would advise wildlife trusts not to touch it.

     The proposals would seem to require developers to acquire three acres for every acre that they do now. Moreover they would have to promise to remain in business for long enough to see a woodland creation project through to completion. Is this realistic?"

BSBI welcomes comments on ancient woodlands and biodiversity offsetting from all its members. Email me at or post shorter comments below: