In 2021 we released the Forest of Avon Plan: A Tree and Woodland Strategy for the West of England at the Festival of Nature 2021, and a small launch event with the Mayor for the West of England Combined Authority, Dan Norris and partners.
The Plan is launched together with and endorsed by the West of England Nature Partnership, a cross sector partnership, including the four authorities of Bristol, Bath & NE Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and the West of England Combined Authority.
The Forest of Avon Plan: A Tree and Woodland Strategy for the West of England sets out a long-term, generational vision for trees and woodlands across the West of England, with a 5 year action plan, principles to guide delivery and priorities for specific land areas, including the development of nature recovery networks.
The declarations of Climate and Ecological Emergencies and the reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic have emphasised the ever-growing importance of the natural environment to our health and wellbeing.
There is increasing demand for new trees and woodlands in our region, backed by an ambitious regional target to double the West of England’s semi-natural tree and woodland cover by the middle of the century.
However, to maximise the benefits that trees and woodlands can provide, we need to ensure that we plant the right trees in the right places, aligning to our regional ambition, and that we care for them properly, as well as enabling natural regeneration of woodland. It is also imperative to manage well what we already have.
A strong and improving evidence base for the natural environment is developing, including the West of England Nature Recovery Network (NRN) and woodland opportunity mapping, and the West of England Joint Green Infrastructure Strategy (JGIS) which provides a prospectus for increasing investment in green infrastructure within the region.
Additionally the newly released England Tree Action Plan and upcoming Environment Bill will facilitate funding for trees and woodland across England, and there is increasing interest from the private sector in financing nature-based solutions.
The West of England is also fortunate to have one of England’s Community Forests – the Forest of Avon, which covers all of the West of England with the exception of the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). This Strategy will act as the updated Forest of Avon Plan, as well as being consistent with the Cotswolds and Mendip Hills AONB Management Plans.
The Plan has been produced through and is officially endorsed by the West of England Nature Partnership, with content commissioned from the Forest of Avon Trust, in response to a key Strategic Project (S5) in the West of England Joint Green Infrastructure Strategy. WENP is a cross-sector partnership working to restore the natural environment in the West of England through embedding the value of nature in decision-making across spatial planning, public health and economic development.
The Plan is about connection and collaboration between every sector of our society and our habitats, being produced through the support of a strong partnership in WENP, intended to enable new resilient partnerships and collaborations, to open up and raise awareness of how to focus and direct resources, skills, knowledge, funds, individual’s time and energy into the right action.