Wednesday, 16 September 2009

New Forest Association Takes Forestry Commission to Task

In today's September Verderers Court, the NFA took the Forestry Commission to task for ongoing damage to the fabric of the forest and dangerously unsafe debris resulting from timber extraction operations at Islands Thorns enclosure. The NFA called for more sensitive management of the operations, particularly as a very nice job has been done by a different team nearby in the stream restoration at Howen Bottom (more info on stream restoration : Lengthening River Beds) Timber operations in character woodlands on the open forest on the SSSI should be managed to the same standards as other environmental works.

The NFA also asked for further scrutiny of the Forestry Commission's trial of a new basalt grit based hoggin material as a car park surface at Longslade Bottom, Pig Bush, Turf Hill amongst others. This is part of an ongoing search for more sustainable materials for car park maintenance. Difficulties arise in the current gravel based hoggin which is easily disrupted, but any new material needs to pass muster with Natural England as it can leech into the sensitive soil of the forest and may also impact the wetlands. The NFA are concerned that the basalt may not be as inert as suggested by the Forestry Commission, also the basalt is a darker colour closer to that of tarmac and may negatively impact on the landscape. (see Gritty solution to potholes)

The NFA also commented on the Forestry Commission's somewhat cynical "consultation" on its plans for the future of the Public Forest Estate in England. The plans include a National plan for fast conifer timber production which would be wholly inappropriate for the New Forest. The Forestry Commission are clearly looking for a mandate nationally, such policies would not work for the New Forest, and would create further unwelcome pressure to our local forestry. The NFA urged the Verderers and all members of the public to respond to the survey with this in mind.

Finally, the NFA joined the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, amongst others, in commenting on the proposed extension to Burley Cricket Club's pavilion. The NFA asked the Verderers to ensure that any extension to existing facilities should be the minimum size needed to maintain the viability of the cricket club and no larger.

(For the full text of this month's Presentment look at the first comment below, or click here).

1 comment:

  1. Full text of Presentment by NFA
    September 2009 Verderers Court

    Burley Cricket Club Pavilion extension

    The NFA have no quibble with Cricket, but we are mindful of any development that impinges on the open forest. We ask the Verderers to ensure that any extension to existing facilities should be the minimum size needed to maintain the viability of the cricket club and no larger.

    Islands Thorns enclosure

    We have noted in previous presentments the absolute mess that timber extraction in the Islands Thorns enclosure has left behind. The only response we had from the Deputy Surveyor related to unfortunate archaeological damage, but did not address the preventable hazards left for forest users.

    This problem is still ongoing, and despite previous assurances, further archaeological damage has occurred, and felled timber is strewn dangerously in undergrowth. Also, the area by the track outside the enclosure has felled wood stored in a manner that has both destroyed grazing and caused at least one incident of hazard to the livestock.

    This is in particularly stark contrast to the sensitive manner in which the nearby Howen Bottom stream restoration has been managed. Timber extraction being done from ornamental woodland on the open forest and the SSSI should be held to the same standards, especially as it is a revenue source for the Forestry Commission.

    We ask the Verderer’s to request that the Deputy Surveyor ensure that future work is carried out to a standard that is protective of the fabric of the forest and all forest users, and also demand justification for the continued unnecessary thinning of this increasingly sparse ornamental woodland.

    Basalt Hoggin Trial

    The Forestry Commission are currently trialling a new basalt grit based hoggin material as a car park surface at Longslade Bottom, Pig Bush, Turf Hill amongst others. We do appreciate that the Forestry Commission must seek more sustainable materials for car park maintenance. Apart from the aesthetic impact to the landscape of a more tarmac-like material, we are concerned that it is not chemically inert as had been stated by Forestry Commission. Another known use for basalt is in fertiliser, and could lead to unwelcome enrichment of the forest soil. We request that Verderers ask the Forestry Commission and Natural England for details of the monitoring procedures that are in place to observe and measure the trials, and what measures are in place for removal should the material prove inappropriate.

    Forestry Commission Consultation

    The NFA note that the Verderers have been invited to respond to the Forestry Commission’s Public Consultation on its future plans for the Public Forest Estate in England. The response document consists of quite loaded survey questions and slanted multiple choice answers, seeming to serve, in part, as a possible mandate for, amongst other things, fast conifer timber production and other potential cash generating activities. These items are questionably cloaked as creating renewable energy sources and fighting climate change.

    Fast conifer timber production is not carbon neutral as represented, particularly if the end product is for fuel wood. This emphasis on conifer production is inappropriate for the New Forest, and we are wary that blindly adopted National policy could put additional pressures on our forestry.

    The NFA would like to urge the Verderers to respond to the consultation with this in mind. And we would also suggest that all individuals consider responding, the closing date is 28th September, 2009.