§ Mr. Kirkwood
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement outlining the Government's policy on the development of the Forestry Commission in the United Kingdom; and what plans he has for change in ownership of the forests.
§ Sir Hector Monro
[holding answer 17 May 1993]: The policies for forestry which my right hon. Friend and his fellow forestry Ministers intend to pursue remain as stated in "Forestry Policy for Great Britain" published in September 1991, a copy of which is in the Library.
The Forestry Commission plays a central role in the delivery of those policies, particularly through its support for and regulation of the private sector and the management of the forests owned by the Government.
However, forestry Ministers have established the Forestry Review Group to review:the effectiveness of the current incentives for forestry investment, in accordance with the manifesto commitment, andoptions for the ownership and management of Forestry Commission woodlands,and to make proposals for changes which would improve the effectiveness of the delivery of the Government's forestry policy objectives, having regard to the Government's other economic and environmental policies.
§ Mr. Chris Smith
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list those individuals and organisations who have so far made submissions to the interdepartmental working group on the Forestry Commission; and if he will publish those submissions.
§ Sir Hector Monro
[holding answer 26 May 1993]: Many individuals and organisations have written to 737W Ministers and Government Departments giving their views on issues connected with the work of the Forestry Review Group. However, they did not do so in the knowledge or expectation that their names or their submissions would be published and I therefore do not think it would be right to publish this information.
§ Mr. Morley
To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how much is spent by the Forestry Commission on conservation projects; and what is this figure as a proportion of turnover;
(2) if he will outline the work done by the Forestry Commission on current conservation projects.
§ Sir Hector Monro
[holding answer 25 May 1993]: The Forest Enterprise arm of the Forestry Commission, which manages the commission's forests, spends over £5 million each year on conservation projects, which is about 5 per cent. of its turnover. These projects include the management of 340 sites of special scientific interest and other areas of conservation value—including forest nature reserves—and of archaeological sites. They also include projects for particular species of flora and fauna. Examples are the construction of an insulated hibernaculum for bats in Yorkshire; providing nesting boxes for barn owls, goldeneye and many other birds; managing forests to provide better habitats for black grouse and capercaillie, to protect goshawks and other birds of prey, and to provide nesting sites for nightjars and red-backed shrikes; encouraging orchids in south Wales and south-west England; creating artificial islands for black-throated divers; making suitable rides and other open spaces to attract butterflies; protecting hen harriers in the highlands of Scotland; managing pinewoods in Culbin to protect the lichens; and providing basking areas for lizards and other reptiles in Northamptonshire.
In addition to direct expenditure on such conservation projects, the Forestry Commission also carries out a great deal of work to improve the conservation value of its forests as part of its normal forest management. This covers, for example, the management of ancient semi-natural woodlands and the protection and expansion of native pinewood areas in Scotland and of heathland in the New Forest and other parts of southern England. It also includes the restructuring of commission forests as 738W they mature to increase their variety and conservation value. This is achieved by premature or delayed felling of the trees, widening the mixture of trees on replanting and leaving open areas. This can result in significant revenue forgone, none of which is included in the costs given above.