Planning and the Rural Environment, Edition: 1st by Joan Davidson and Gerald Wibberley (Auth.)

By Joan Davidson and Gerald Wibberley (Auth.)

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Their interests have been aided by the formation of syndicates, employing specialist agencies such as the Economic Forestry Group and Fountain Forestry, who plant and manage woodlands on behalf of private owners. It has been estimated that up to the beginning of the rapid rise in land prices of 1972/73, the return received on land under commercial trees was about 3 per cent on the total investment and that the effect of these various grants and tax exemptions was to raise the rate of return to the private investor to about 6 per cent.

What of the balance between State woodlands and those in private hands? Should there be more or less planting on the hills? What of the lowland with its wooded heritage from past centuries — is the individual tree, copse and small wood to be a continuing part of its matrix? Without preferential taxation, financial incentives and State participation, it is likely that the felling of trees would greatly exceed their planting. Even so, most modern capitalist communities are not prepared to give the State complete control over the life and death of trees.

As a result of both these new tax arrangements, more woodland could be lost, with implications for the landscape and the retention of wildlife, particularly in the lowlands. Woods in the Lowlands Most of the recent public and private tree planting has taken place in the hills and uplands, on poor land, where the main competitive alternative uses have been hill sheep and cattle farming. Until the sharp increase in values from 1972 onwards, land in the uplands has been relatively cheap but as most of it has been open and uncultivated its fertility has precluded the planting of timber species other than conifers, which now make up more than 74 per cent of all productive woodland (Table 12).

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