Joint letter to Secretary of State for Defra

16 Feb 2023

Small Woods and the Royal Forestry Society have come together to write a letter to Rt Hon. Thérèse Coffey MP, Secretary of State for Defra, to raise concerns regarding the implementation of the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

In our letter, dated February 9, we pointed out the development of the ELM scheme presented an opportunity to make a decisive break from what was possible under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Since the EU referendum result, there has existed a widely held hope that any new scheme would be genuinely transformative for our countryside, and that it would encourage land managers to provide a range of public benefits and pay them to do so. We pointed out that unfortunately, support for our woodland owners (who are not also farmers), to help them and get more woods into management is still a glaring weakness in the ELM scheme proposals developed to date.

While we welcome the recent Policy Paper, the ELM update: how Government will pay for land-based environment and climate goods and services (issued 3 Feb. 2023), and while the section on Woodland Trees and Agroforestry describes good intentions which we support, it requires more detail and the resources to fulfil its aims. In short, we stressed, we need a clear and well-resourced England Woodland Management Offer (EWMO), akin to the existing EWCO for woodland creation.

We urged the Minister to consider how the scheme will support our woodland management beyond farms, to deliver all the benefits we should seek, and welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter further with her.