§ Mr. Barry Field
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the public meeting to discuss the Forestry Commission's plans for Parkhurst forest on the Isle of Wight.
§ Mr. Curry
The public meeting held in Newport, Isle of Wight, on 14 January was arranged by the Forestry Commission so that the local forest district manager could discuss the proposed felling at Mark's corner in Parkhurst forest with interested members of the public. This area is a site of special scientific interest which consists largely of old oak trees; the site is particularly noted for its lichens. The felling proposals form part of a long-term management plan for the area which was agreed with the Nature Conservancy Council, now English Nature, in 1989. The felling is designed to reduce the denser stands of oaks and to thin the beech and sweet chestnut trees, in order to allow more light to reach the stems of trees carrying rare lichens. This will create a more open woodland structure similar to that associated with the traditional management of pasture woodland.
Most people at the public meeting accepted that some trees should be felled, and many helpful and positive comments were made. The Forestry Commission agreed to implement many of the suggestions, including the request that fewer trees should be felled and that a conservation ride should be created. The Forestry Commission invited the meeting to set up a friends of Parkhurst forest body in order to improve liaison between the commission and the local residents.
I understand that my hon. Friend recently met the Forestry Commission's regional director and discussed the management of Parkhurst forest with him.