After a winter when the future of England's public woodlands has stirred public passions and dominated the headlines, The Mersey Forest welcomes the chance to engage with the newly announced independent panel on the issue, which will report back to government in the autumn.
Our trees and woodlands provide huge benefits to our economy, society and wildlife, and as such, public forestry policy is far too important to get wrong.
We welcome the appointment as chair of the panel of the Right Reverend James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who has been a strong supporter of The Mersey Forest for many years.
The Mersey Forest believes there is a need for more community engagement and involvement in all woodlands, including on the Public Forest Estate. However, our experience of community forestry over the past 20 years has been that groups need support to make this a reality and take on stewardship of sites.
This is especially true in areas where community woodlands are likely to be of greatest value, where there may be relatively few people with the connections, capital and experience needed to manage them effectively for public benefit.
You can read more about the importance of community forestry in our paper on the public forests debate published earlier this year.