Thank you for contacting me about ancient woodlands.
I am very proud of West Worcestershire’s ancient woodlands. I recently backed the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust's plan to buy land adjoining its site at Monkwood Green, near Hallow and allow it to return to woodland. The project is one of a number of projects in the area which are improving the natural environment and allowing improved habitats for plants, wildlife and insects. I have also spoken in support of the campaign to protect Tiddesley Wood from housing development and the importance of protecting our green spaces.
If we are to meet our net zero carbon emission ambition will need us to plant many new trees, but I have been eager to make the point that we must also protect our ancient woodlands too.
I know that in 2018, Ministers strengthened protections for ancient woodland when considering planning decisions for development by amending the National Planning Policy Framework. However, they now want to do more to continue to raise the importance of this habitat and to acknowledge that woodlands that are very old but not ancient are also valuable habitats and pieces of our history.
The Action Plan sets out how the Government will Introduce a new category of ‘Long Established Woodland,’ woodlands that have been in situ since 1840, alongside ancient woodland. Ministers will consult on the protections these woodlands are afforded in the planning system, recognising their high ecological and societal value, and will update the ancient woodland inventory to cover the whole of England. This will include mapping smaller ancient woodland sites of 0.25 hectares.
Thank you for contacting me about this important issue.