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Delivering forestry policy

Protecting, improving and expanding England's woodland resource

Government forestry policy is set out in Defra's and Forestry Commmission England's forestry and woodland policy statement

England’s trees, woods and forests are a vital national asset providing multiple economic, social and environmental benefits.

Our objective is to enable the forestry sector to protect, improve and expand this asset so that these benefits can be maximised now and maintained for the future. Our forestry policy is therefore based on resilience.

This means a forestry sector and woodland resource that keeps growing and providing these multiple benefits, despite threats such as pests and diseases and climate change, without requiring  more government intervention.

To achieve this, everything we do must be focused on meeting the following key objectives (in priority order):

• protecting the nation’s trees, woodlands and forests from increasing threats such as pests, diseases and climate change

• improving their resilience to these threats and their contribution to economic growth, people’s lives and nature

• expanding them to further increase their value

This hierarchy of priorities is the bedrock of our forestry policy and our approach to enabling all in the sector to achieve our collective ambitions.

Protect

Woodlands and forests face unprecedented threats in the face of the dual challenges of climate change, which can weaken our existing trees thereby creating more suitable conditions for the expansion of pest populations, and an increase in international trade resulting in new pests and diseases arriving from overseas. 

Unsustainable populations of some deer species and grey squirrels and invasive species such as Rhododendron can also damage woodland. We support landowners in collaborating to manage wild deer populations and controlling invasive species.

We use regulation and swift responses to tree disease outbreaks to protect England’s woods, working in partnership with woodland owners and managers.  We also promote planting of a wider range of types and species of trees to increase ecological resilience. 

This will decrease the frequency and severity of outbreaks of tree diseases and a provide a woodland resource that is more resilience to such outbreaks when they occur.

Improve

Woodland managed to the UK Forestry Standard (link) will continue to provide benefits such as jobs and economic activity, timber and woodfuel, clean water, biodiversity, and places for people to enjoy the outdoors. 

We are at the heart of cross-sector partnership working. We provide woodland owners and managers with the advice, incentives and market opportunities they need to identify what they want from their woods, plan how to make this happen, and put their plan into action.

Expand

Woodland creation in most landscapes can bring increased benefits such as jobs and economic activity, timber and woodfuel, clean water, biodiversity, and places for people to enjoy the outdoors.

We want to create a lot more woodland in England and work with others to encourage more trees to be planted where it suits local conditions. 

Developing our business

We run our business, manage change and continuously improve so we become better at enabling the sector to protect, improve and expand England's woodland.

We are an intelligent organisation that understands how to make a difference in the real world to realise the ambitions in our forestry policy. 

We publish trends in key indicators of the outcomes we want so that everyone can see how we, and the wider sector, are doing.

Much of the work on organisational change is brought together in the Woodland Policy Enabling Programme.