New protection for ancient English woodland
Amid the gloom of Brexit with its uncertain outlook for environmental legislation, new planning rules in July 2018 offer highly welcome extended protection for ancient woodland in England.
This habitat, under pressure from new infrastructure and housing schemes across the country – with only 2% of original cover remaining – will now benefit from equal status to listed buildings and scheduled monuments.
Ancient woods, defined principally as existing continuously on maps since 1600AD, may now only be damaged by development for ‘wholly exceptional reasons’ – a phrase yet to be tested in law for this context, but its equivalent already provides stringent guardianship for built heritage property.
The next step will be a campaign to extend this protection to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with devolved jurisdiction over woodland issues.
Wild Europe is liaising on the Old Growth Forest Protection Strategy with DEFRA, the English Environment Ministry which also represents the United Kingdom as a contracting party to the Bern Convention.