asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether his attention has been drawn to the denuding of the countryside due to the losses of millions of elms owing to elm disease and the belated losses of beeches due to drought and whether he proposes to provide any financial encouragement in view of the high cost of planting, especially where trees have to be protected against cattle and sheep.
I am well aware of the large numbers of elms lost through Dutch elm disease and the very much smaller losses of beech trees. Financial encouragement to private landowners to replant trees is given by the Countryside Commission, which provides grants in certain circumstances for areas of less than 0·25 hectares. Forestry Commission grants are available for the planting of areas of between 0·25 hectares and 10 hectares under its recently introduced small woods scheme, and areas of 10 hectares or more may be considered under the basis III dedication scheme. The Forestry Commission grants are subject to an obligation to manage the woodlands in accordance with sound forestry practice. Under the dedication scheme the owner is also obliged to secure effective integration with agriculture where appropriate.