The Garden Guide

Book: Landscape Planning and Environmental Impact Design: from EIA to EID
Chapter: Chapter 8 Forest design, forestry and sylviculture

Private forestry planning

Previous - Next

Private forestry is both better and worse than state forestry. The foregoing discussion has concentrated on the Commission's role in running the state forestry enterprise. It also has a duty to encourage private forestry by grantï¾­aid, research, education and other means. Until recently the private sector of the industry managed to evade the public attention and criticism to which the Commission, as a national agency, is exposed. But criticism grew and in 1984 The Listener reported that: The flashpoint at the moment is Craig Meagaidh, a wild mountainside in the middle of the Highlands, where Fountain Forestry, a syndicate of highï¾­rate taxpayers, wants to plant 450 hectares of the lower slopes. The NCC have declared the site one of Special Scientific Interest and refusing to allow planting to go ahead, at least until ï¾­ or if ï¾­ the Secretary of State for Scotland asks them to back down. The Forestry Commission have said they will provide Fountain Forestry with grants despite the NCC's position (Hutton 1984: 13). Craig Meagaidh was saved but the private sector's record is in fact both better and worse than that of the Commission. The old family estates have a better record. Many have always carried on forestry as part of a multiï¾­use enterprise and have paid great attention to aesthetics, agriculture, public access, nature conservation and the design of roads and buildings. The new forest estates which have been created by investment companies, with grantï¾­aid and tax incentives, have a bad record. They lag behind the Commission with regard to public access, landscape design, nature conservation, and the provision of recreational facilities. It was not until 1971 that a serious effort was made to resolve the question of 'how private woodland owners can at the same time play an effective part in meeting contemporary social and environmental needs' (Forestry Commission 1971: 7). In the following year a new Dedication Scheme was inaugurated to 'secure sound forestry practice, effective integration with agriculture and environmental safeguards, together with such opportunities for recreation as may be appropriate' (Forestry Commission 1972: 9). When the new system was reviewed in 1977, two examples were given of private schemes which had been rejected on environmental grounds. At Haresceugh Fell the Commission 'concluded that it would be environmentally unacceptable to permit afforestation of 247 hectares of Pennine upland with the aid of grants because of its special prominence in the landscape'. A site on Breckland was rejected because it was one of the last remaining areas of the old Breckland (Forestry Commission 1977: 11). The Commission's guidance note on Consultation Procedures for forestry grants and felling permissions now make provision for full consultation with Agriculture Departments, Local Planning Authorities and the Countryside Commission (Forestry Commission 1984a). Both public and private forestry are now supervised by a Forest Authority. If the private sector is to match, or better, the environmental standards which are set by the Commission it will be necessary for woodland owners to produce the type of multiï¾­objective plans which are discussed in the next section. Should the forestry industry become subject to planning control, as proposed by the Countryside Commission, or to Environmental Assessment, then landscape plans will become necessary for the entire forest estate. They are already required for many land uses, except agriculture and defence. The RICS argued that the level of grant aid to private forestry should be raised 'to make good landscaping economically feasible' and so that managers 'give public access a higher priority' (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors 1982).