October is always a hugely busy month at Grown In Britain – this year being no exception. Yet no sooner had it arrived, than it’s almost over, in a whirlwind.
Not only do we host Grown in Britain Week during the second week in October every year, but we also embark on the start of Christmas tree season, which always brings with it a number of meetings and a lot of interesting discussion.
For Grown in Britain Week this year, our colleagues and partners across the country were busy organising their own events and special offers, in celebration of great British timber. The dates also incorporated other significant industry events such as UK Construction Week, Woodland Social Enterprise Day and Open Forest Friday, which gave everyone a great excuse to get out and enjoy our beautiful forests and woodlands.
My own personal highlights included a massively positive meeting on Tuesday 8th, with Defra Minister, Lord Gardiner. As we prepare for Brexit, it was an essential and timely conversation, looking at the future role of Grown in Britain in guiding and supporting our industry colleagues through the challenges ahead. We talked about the call for more trees to be planted and how these trees must be well managed, resilient and able to deliver the low carbon materials we will need in the future.
Lord Gardiner was keen to know if the nursery sector was in a position to grow more home grown plants, as the market for more trees expands and the threat of importing diseases on planting stock remains high. We discussed the role of the impending Plant Healthy scheme in meeting both of these challenges. This scheme has been developed by Grown in Britain and the HTA, and will give biosecurity assurance to compliant businesses.
On Wednesday 9th, I was thrilled to see the Newbury Racecourse auditorium full to capacity at the Annual Forestry Conference, which we hosted alongside The CLA and Forestry Commission. It was great to hear the Chairman of the Forestry Commission describe both the opportunity of our time, set within the context of the last 100 years. This opportunity comes with many challenges that the conference debated with passion and a good dose of realism on what is deliverable.
The Danish experience of dealing with Ash Dieback was sobering, whilst the discussion on sequestering carbon through forest expansion was seen as a great opportunity; as was tapping into the benefits of embodied carbon over the long term into sustainable forest products e.g. timber frames and furniture.
With no time to come up for air, we were straight into the launch of our research into imported Christmas trees and Biosecurity on Monday 14th, in the heart of Westminster. It was great to share the podium with the chief plant health officer, Nicola Spence, Defra’s Claire Gent and James Simpson of Forestry England, who all gave highly informative presentations around the challenges of keeping dangerous pests out of the country.
All highlighted the assurance that Grown in Britain Certification brings, to the often opaque supply chain surrounding Christmas Trees.
If you were unable to join us, you can view Grown in Britain’s research report on the risks of importing pests with Christmas Trees here.
Presentations from the day are also available: