Michael Gove, together with Stirling MP Stephen Kerr, viewed the 1.3 million trees growing at the Jerah site during a visit arranged by Confor, the trade body who represent 1,500 UK forestry and wood-using businesses, worth £2 billion to the British economy.
Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, briefed Mr Gove about the scheme’s benefits for the environment, economy and local community - along with Tim Liddon, of Tilhill Forestry, which manages the site.
Jerah was designed as a modern productive woodland which, as well as growing timber, was specifically designed to help reduce flood risks in Menstrie, to the south of the planting site - and to help renew black grouse populations in the area. A significant part of the site was designed and planted as a community woodland, enhancing access for walkers, fell runners, mountain bikers and paragliders.
Just 41 per cent of the 1000-hectare site is dedicated to timber production, with the balance comprising open ground and native woodland for landscape, environmental and public amenity benefit.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Forestry is vital to the UK’s economy, and at Jerah I saw first-hand the role tree planting has to play in managing flood risks, helping wildlife to thrive, and simply providing a beautiful place for people to live and work.
“Through successful schemes like Doddington Moor in Northumberland and ambitious plans for a Northern Forest along England's M62 corridor, planting more trees will be at the heart of our work to deliver a Green Brexit.”
Stuart Goodall said: “Michael Gove has made very positive comments about the role of forestry in delivering a cleaner, greener future for the UK and it is extremely important to show him practical examples of what modern productive forestry can deliver.
“Tilhill Forestry worked tirelessly with the local community and all interested parties to get the balance of the site right.”
Tim Liddon, Forestry Director of Tilhill Forestry, said: “We need politicians to visit sites like this to see for themselves what mixed modern forestry looks like - and what it can deliver.”
Stephen Kerr, Conservative MP for Stirling, said: “Forestry and timber processing are really significant industries in my constituency. The Norbord plant at Cowie, near Stirling, which employs 330 people. was the UK’s first manufacturing site for MDF and now operates state-of-the-art production and runs 24 hours a day, every day, producing materials used in the structure and furnishing of all our homes. It is essential for the future of this plant and other similar facilities across the UK that new productive forests like Jerah continue to be planted in appropriate locations.”