§ 2.48 p.m.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Forestry Commission are satisfied at the progress of their aim to secure the planting of some 3,000,000 acres by the end of the century; whether unforeseen difficulties have arisen in obtaining sufficient suitable land; and what action is being taken to secure the fulfilment of their original estimate.]
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (LORD CARRINGTON)
My Lords, during the five years ended September 30, 1951, the Forestry Commission planted 147,600 acres of bare land. This represents substantial progress towards the aim of afforesting 3,000,000 acres in fifty years, but falls short by about one-fifth of the rate regarded as desirable by the Commissioners in the Report of Post-War Forest Policy. In addition, the Commission have replanted about 70,000 acres of felled woodland. The Commission are at present planting at the rate of about 60,000 acres a year. The main difficulties preventing more rapid progress are that land is not being offered as freely as was expected. There is great pressure for land for other uses, and in some areas there is a shortage of labour for planting. The Commissioners will make every effort, in consultation with the Agricultural Departments, to speed up the rate of acquisition of suitable land, but in present financial and other circumstances it is unlikely that the rate of planting can be substantially increased during the next year or two.
§ LORD BROUGHSHANE
My Lords, can my noble friend tell the House whether any recent survey has been made to ascertain what lands which are not 283 suitable for food production could be utilised for growing soft timber, of which large quantities might be required in the event of an emergency?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, the Forestry Commissioners and their staff are constantly carrying out surveys of the type suggested by my noble friend.
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
My Lords, arising out of that reply, will my noble friend convey to the Forestry Commission that they would probably meet with less opposition in their efforts to acquire land if they paid more attention to the acquisition of large quantities of land lying destitute as a result of being felled and not replanted, and less to taking over excellent sheep ground?
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, I am sure the Forestry Commissioners will take note of what the noble Earl says.