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15.08.03
Potential of Cornish woodlands investigated with help of Objective One

A £35,000 feasibility study to look into alternative uses for Cornwall's woodlands is now well underway thanks to investment from Objective One.

Once complete, the study hopes to provide solutions to enable many of Cornwall's woodlands to be managed in a sustainable way while providing businesses and communities with new uses for the natural resource.

During a visit to an Objective One showcase event in May, HRH The Duke of Cornwall highlighted the need for woodlands to be managed in a sustainable way, and expressed his desire to see much greater local sourcing of wood products.

The feasibility study, which has been commissioned by the Cornwall Enterprise Company on behalf of Woodmeet, the Cornish woodlands network, was started in June by environmental consultants Scott Wilson. The study is focusing on the River Fowey catchment area in order to establish the economic, environmental and social potential of the area's woodlands.

The wide range of woodland use and ownership in Fowey, with a mix of conifer plantations, mixed estate woodlands, small plantations, riverine and estuarine oak woodlands, makes it an ideal sample area from which the results of the study can be applied to woodlands across Cornwall.

Scott Wilson is identifying possible links between the woodland owners, operators, businesses and the local community in the Fowey area to assess if there are any workable opportunities which could be capitalised upon.

William Garnier, Woodmeet Facilitator within the Objective One Agricultural Development Team, said: "This study demonstrates the pro-active measures being taken by the woodland industry to re-energise the management of Cornwall's woodlands.

"There is a great need throughout the industry to find alternative revenue streams in order to support the management of woodlands which are currently under managed at both a regional and national level due, in part, to cheap imports, high overheads and the lack of substantiated markets.

"Woodland management for timber involves practices that provide trees with the space to grow and be extracted with minimum damage to the timber. However, the process of woodland thinning and clearing to make way for the extraction of timber creates by-products. The key to the future vitality of our woodlands lies in not only finding alternative uses and markets for these wood by-products, but also in finding other reasons for managing them in the first place, such as recreation, environmental and/or entrepreneurial activities. It is clear that woodland management cannot rely on timber sales alone and this study is one effort to discover alternative revenue streams for woodland owners. If these are found then the economy, the environment and the people of Cornwall will all benefit."

Land and forestry specialist Robert Spencer, who is managing the project at Scott Wilson said: "We are now over half way through the information gathering phase of the study and have been delighted by the wealth of information and ideas generated by the woodland owners, mangers, businesses and community in Fowey to find a way forward for the future of the area's woodlands.

"We look forward to feeding back the findings and initial ideas from the study at a Woodland Forum on the 10th September where we will be inviting the stakeholders who have helped us gather information to come along and listen to our proposals and let us know if they believe they are viable. Following on from this vital feedback we will present our final report to the Woodmeet in October."

The results of the feasibility study should provide valuable recommendations for future entrepreneurial activity. The Objective One Agricultural Development Team hopes to work with applicants to bring projects to fruition that could later be replicated in other areas of Cornwall.

Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Objective One Partnership, said: "Cornwall's woodlands are important in a number of ways and to numerous groups of people, the results of this study are eagerly anticipated as we hope they will provide new opportunities for businesses in Cornwall to use our natural woodland resources sustainably for the economic and social benefit of the region."

The £35,052 project has received £17,276 investment from the Objective One European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) with match funding from DEFRA and the additional funding coming from Cornwall County Council, the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.

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Editor's notes:

European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)

EAGGF is one of the four funds that make up the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is making £314 million of investment available to support the local economy between 2000 and 2006.

EAGGF aims to:

Help preserve the link between diversified farming and the land.
Improve and support the competitiveness of agriculture as a key activity in rural areas.
Ensure the diversification of the economy in rural areas.
Help to keep thriving communities in rural areas.
Preserve and improve the environment, the landscape and the rural heritage.

For further information contact:

William Garnier
Cornwall Enterprise
01872 322800

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Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388
jason@dclark.co.uk

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