Campaigners say we need to return to when around 15% of England was covered in trees – something unseen since the time of the Domesday book in 1086. Charlotte Reid has more.
Campaigns group Our Forests wants to create a scale of woodland larger than has been seen in the UK in the past 1,000 years. To achieve this it means planting one billion trees by 2050.
This idea came about as a response to the Government’s plans to sell off publicly owned woodland, through a recent report called A vision for England’s public woods and forests.
Rich Daniels from Our Forests explains that their vision is to “get our public woods and forests out of the hands of distant, detached ministers only interested in short –term, asset-stripping and protect them for everyone, for ever”.
Dr Gabriel Hemery, an English forest scientist involved in the Our Forests campaign, says their project is an “ambitious, but wholly achievable target”.
“Getting all our woods working, so that they provide the wealth of renewable resources and rich variety of wildlife they are capable of supporting, is vital”, she said.
“Our vision is about creating real jobs, boosting rural economies, and improving the environment and well-being for communities across England”.
At the same time, the charity Trees for Cities has set a New Year’s resolution to plant 20,000 trees in 2012.
Blue & Green Tomorrow is always keen to find an investment opportunity to help the environment and there are some forestry funds available. Last year we profiled the Quadris Environmental Forestry Fund which has been running since 2001 and invests in Brazilian teak plantations.
However, it is an area to be careful in.
Jeremy Newbegin, director of the Ethical Partnership, says, “there are no forestry funds” that he would recommend to his clients. Newbegin said that they came close to choosing Quadris but “but they changed the management of their guaranteed fund (took away the guarantee) when it became obvious that the risks were too great, without adequately informing unit holders. This undermined my confidence in them”.
Newbegin says he “would love to” invest in a forestry fund,” but there are none that are regulated by the FSA [Financial Services Authority]”.
“Our stance at TEP Ltd is to only recommend regulated investments as these provide greater security. Adequate due diligence is hard to achieve with unregulated funds and we have built up our business over many years and don’t want to throw everything away by taking unnecessary risks on behalf of our clients.”
In balance, John Bourbon from Quadris said, “Investment in forestry is very much for the qualified or sophisticated investor who are prepared to look for a long term investment which will invariably use vehicles operated from outside of the UK but may still be subject to regulatory activity”.
If you see yourself as a “sophisticated investor”, Bourbon explains that UK IFAs can recommend a fund like Quadris in “appropriate circumstances”, and they will “assist in providing advice on an audit trail on regular occasions, so that appropriate investors can be given the opportunity to invest”.
He also points out that there are other regulatory bodies internationally, other than the FSA, “that operate in a similar manner to the FSA and uphold the international standards set by IOSCO and others”.
“None of them has a magic bullet to protect investors from themselves or bad advisers and promoters but they all do their utmost best”.
But Bourbon ends by saying, “What is equally important to note is that the trees continue to grow as does the demand for the raw material”.
If you want to know more about investing in the environment and about secure investments then talk to your financial adviser. If you don’t have one then use our online form and we’ll put in touch with a specialist ethical adviser.