August 17, 2017

RFS says managed woodlands in England target is now ‘out of reach’

woodlands

Forestry Commission England’s Corporate Plan Indicators 2017, published on 15 June 2017, contain particularly disappointing figures on efforts to bring more of England’s woodlands into active management, says the Royal Forestry Society (RFS).

With no increase in the percentage of woodland under management for the past three years, the target of achieving two thirds by 2018 is now, they believe, unrealistic.

Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: “Managed woodlands increase productivity, nurture wildlife and enhance landscapes. Prices for timber and firewood have increased significantly and are a clear incentive to bring neglected woods into management. It is disappointing that the percentage of woodland in active management remains 58% for the third year running in England. The government target of 66% by the end of next year is now out of reach.

“Government and the forestry sector need to work together more effectively to engage landowners to understand the benefits of managed woodland and the risk to the health of woods from continued neglect.”

Earlier this year, at the Government Forestry in England Inquiry, the RFS spelled out a need for a step change in the grant and regulatory environments to better incentivise landowners to bring existing woodlands into management.

The evidence the RFS gave to the inquiry is available here.

The report also reveals little or no change over the last five years in the numbers of new woodlands or plantings.

FC England’s full report is available here.

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