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Businesses Grow On Trees in The National Forest

Wednesday, 14th March 2007

The National Forest Business Development programme’s recent conference attracted such interest the organisers had to change venues – twice – to accommodate the numbers.

Over 120 forestry agents, woodland owners, contractors and funders attended the event to hear about the growing potential for wood and timber-based businesses in The National Forest. The conference was timely in the development of the Forest, as woodland cover has tripled since the early 1990s and over 7m trees have been planted. The management of the growing woodlands, some of which are up to 12 years old with the trees growing away well, has the potential to bring significant business opportunities.

Looking at current challenges and ideas for the future, the delegates were addressed by Mike Seville, Forestry Policy Advisor for the Country Land and Business Association; Liz Thomas, Business Advisor for the National Forest Business Development Programme; Tom Gill of Leicestershire Rural Partnership; Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive, National Forest Company (NFC) and Dr Hugh Williams, Incentives & Land Management Officer (NFC).

The wider UK context for forestry was also discussed including the importance of profitability (the wood that pays is the wood that stays), climate change, energy uses for timber and how to attract younger people into the industry.
Organiser of the event, Liz Thomas said: "We were delighted by the turnout, especially that businesses were so well represented. There was a great atmosphere and a real feeling of the woodland business community working together for mutual benefit and the good of the Forest. The support for the Business Development Programme was overwhelming and bodes well for the future of the woodland economy in The National Forest.”

Individuals interested in finding out more about woodland business opportunities in The National Forest can contact Liz Thomas on 01283 215076.