Outdoor Focus Summer 2018 - Page 14

www.robyorke.co.uk that they deeply care about. So one of the things I want to be able to do is to provide them with a platform to make a diff erence. There was a Government U-turn seven years ago on the forest sell-off . Shouldn’t the Forestry Commission, not Woodland Trust, be leading on large-scale planting such as the Northern Forest? The fi rst thing to say is that the Woodland Trust does a fantastic job and the Northern Forest is a great idea. But there’s much more that all of us can do and we have an ambition as a government to plant 11 million trees in the lifetime of this parliament, and that will require action by the Forestry Commission, by landowners and… Who’s going to pay for that? I’ve asked to look at what the existing incentives are and the existing impediments. And we’re thinking of trying to support agro-forestry projects. Money is tight and there are many Government departments demanding investment: NHS, education, housing etc. Does DEFRA fear its budgets being cut by the Treasury? The Prime Minister has shown great leadership on environmental issues, not least the launch of the 25-year plan with the fi rst speech by the Prime Minister on the environment for more than ten years. So we respect the Treasury, because every penny is taxpayers’ money and we mustn’t be profl igate or wasteful. But we don’t fear it, we think the Treasury understands the importance of investing in the environment, because you can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy environment and we need to take a more responsible approach on everything from plastics to soils. The trade deals that come out of Brexit will fundamentally shape how the UK 14 Outdoor focus | summer 2018 countryside looks. Is there nothing we can do until the trade deals come out? Organisations, such as Natural England, are already working with landowners to restore habitats and enhance their management. As alluded to in the 25-year environment plan, we want to follow on from Sir John Lawton’s recommendations to make space for nature, connect habitats at a landscape scale, which will ensure we can see wildlife return. Some of the countryside stewardship schemes are already returning farmland birds in numbers and also I’d like to think about how we can sensitively reintroduce and support native species. Some of the countryside stewardship schemes are already returning farmland birds in numbers... In 25 years’ time, if you were fl ying over the UK, how would you describe the changes you can see below? What I hope you will see is more mixed farming, more livestock in parts of the country that we might not have seen it in such numbers before, and we’ll see a more varied landscape, so slightly fewer fi elds of cereal and signifi cantly more grassland pasture, trees, hedgerows, copses and woods with more wildlife as a result. Heathland in a healthy condition and, along our coastline, restoration of the wetlands, which provide vital habitat to waders. And I hope that what we’ll also see are people visiting, enjoying and appreciating the countryside and its natural beauty. Rob interviewed the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Aff airs under cover of a piece for BBC Countryfi le Magazine. Rob has also been working on collaborative conservation projects, such as getting land managers to work closer together and being braver on saving curlew with habitat management alongside targeted wildlife management. He’s due to interview the fi rst female president of NFU – Minette ]\8$]H^H\][ۈH X^H[۝[Y\YZX[YH]\YY[\\][B[\YHX][\ZHܙX][K