Environment secretary Caroline Spelman praises Brandon Wood

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RUGBY’S MP Mark Pawsey has questioned the environment secretary on the government’s plans for more community-run woodlands and forests.

Speaking in the Commons chamber Mr Pawsey said: “In January 2000, ownership of Brandon wood in my constituency passed from the Forestry Commission to the Friends of Brandon Wood and became the first community woodland in England. Since then, volunteers have worked hard to provide a network of footpaths for all-weather and all-ability walking throughout the woods, and local schools have been involved.”

He continued: “Will the minister ensure that the Independent Panel on Forestry fully considers the benefits that can arise from local ownership of woodlands such as that of Brandon wood?”

Secretary of State Caroline Spelman replied: “My hon. Friend has a degree in estate management, and his constituency is therefore very blessed given its appetite for engagement in community forestry. Brandon wood is one of the best examples of community forestry, and I suggest that my hon. Friend should pass it directly to the IPF, because that panel is open to all members of the public, and part of its work will involve going around the country.”

Mr Pawsey concluded: “I am delighted that the Secretary of State has publicly acknowledged the fact that Brandon wood is one of the best examples of community forestry. I am extremely proud to have the woodland in my constituency, and I would certainly encourage the Friends of Brandon Wood to take part in the current consultation so that other communities across the country can benefit from this excellent model.”