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Journal

Our predictions for 2023



Now that Evolving Forests is a proper grown-up business, we have to do proper grown-up business stuff. ‘Stuff’ like accounts, employing people, and writing “predictions for the new year” blogs. So here’s our predictions for 2023.


New woodland


First and foremost is that planting of new woodland will, finally, start taking off in 2023. We’ve heard of bigger schemes waiting on approval that will fall into the 23/24 planting season. Schemes in the 50-100 hectare category that would go some way towards the government targets, ecological needs and societies expectations. At the same time we’ll be helping CPRE (the countryside charity), the Woodland Trust and London boroughs explore what increased peri-urban planting might look like. There are still plenty of problems in policy, subsidy, over-reliance of form-filling technocracy, inflation and debate around land-use. But, it definitely feels good to feel like momentum is being gained.


Certification


At the other end of the chain we’ve noticed more people asking more questions about certification. Developers, architects, saw-millers and foresters all signed up to certification schemes as a cost & time effective way of ensuring legality and sustainability.  As social & environmental responsibility becomes a real thing beyond second-thoughts and greenwash we’ve had multiple enquiries asking about the true value of these schemes. These are entirely open ended questions. People just wanting to ensure they are signing up to something that does what it says. In 2023 we think these informal enquiries will grow stronger and the questions shift to:


Who certifies the certifier?

and


How transparent is the line between ideology and pragmatism in these schemes?

Paradigm shifts in timber


2023 is going to be the year the slow moving tankers that are the woodland NGOs reach the apex of their turn to new paradigms that acknowledge we need timber as a material. Of course, they have always given lip-service to the need for timber. Just as long as it is grown “in the right place”. Which is, more often than not, geographically ambiguous (just as the commercial sector have done to ecologically sensitive management). In 2022 we worked with the Woodland Trust looking at hardwood timber from under-managed woodlands. In 2023 that work will continue and we will also be helping Grown in Britain and the National Trust investigate how they can use their timber better for their own needs.  


Working together


There seems genuine excitement that we can work together to find ecologically sensitive silvicultural methods and localised supply-chains that acknowledge multiple goods from forests. Akin to family factions who haven’t spoken in generations. The internal wrangling between “commercial” and ‘ecological” forestry has been disruptive to everyone and completely needless and embarrassing.  


The biggest question is whether the “commercial” sector can do likewise…

2023 is going to be the year the environmental management schemes get signed off. And the year we all get the relief that long-term cross-party rural policy can provide.  


Only jokingMaybe in 2123


Pushing boundaries


It’s going to be a BIG, daunting and exciting year for Evolving Forests.  In 2021 Kath joined us. In 2022 Cat, and now in  2023 we will be welcoming Caroline Ayre to the fold to make us four. We now have a team whose expertise span the built environment, woodland ecology, public policy, plant-health and supply-chain development. A team capable of offering a holistic service and bringing a wealth of experience. Most importantly it feels like a team excited about pushing our boundaries and helping clients & collaborators push theirs.  In hand is work on the development of urban-forestry systems in London; creation of supply-chains for building-regulation compliant timber products; film making & content generation around woodland management planning and our own film festival in April 2023.


There are always people we are badgering who we would love to work with. And there are plenty of people we are yet to meet. And we can’t wait.


Bring on 2023!





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