THE England Tree Strategy (ETS) consultation is unfit for purpose and fails to acknowledge the importance of urban trees, according to the Arboricultural Association (AA).

In a covering letter to UK forestry minister Lord Goldsmith, written as part of the AA’s response, it was stated that the consultation framework – multiple-choice questions, with little space for additional comment – does not allow for the depth and nuance that is required in the responses.

This, the AA said, is “particularly concerning because we are essentially being invited to comment in advance about the document which has not yet been written”.

The AA also lamented the ETS’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which it said fails to differentiate between forestry and arboriculture, which are “two completely separate industries with considerable differences at every stage and in every area”. The problems associated with this approach are demonstrated in every section of the document, the AA said, with urban trees being relegated in importance as compared to commercial forestry and mass tree-planting initiatives.

“One solution would be to rename this document to reflect what it is – an England Forestry and Woodland Strategy – and then develop a standalone England Urban Tree Strategy with input from the relevant industry groups,” the AA said. “Alternatively, if this is to remain an England Tree Strategy, then it needs to be structured and written from a perspective where urban trees are acknowledged as being equally as important, albeit in different ways and for different reasons, from trees in woodlands and forests.”

The AA has also requested that, once completed, a draft of the ETS document be made available to it for comment before it is finalised and published.

“We believe that this is absolutely essential in order to ensure that the final document is something which the arboricultural industry feels it can support, promote and implement,” the AA added.

The AA’s three-part response to the consultation also included its ETS questionnaire answers, and a briefing note, providing additional detail and commentary about the questions and the ETS consultation document itself.

The ETS consultation ended on 11 September and is expected to be published by the end of the year.

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