The UK has a range of mechanisms to provide data for international, UK and national country reporting, and to monitor forests for the effects of a range of biotic and environmental factors. The main GB source is a comprehensive assessment through the national forest inventory. A range of plots provides additional data across the UK for environmental monitoring, which forms part of international co-operative programmes. Where appropriate, we will ensure that all monitoring and reporting will comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.
The Forestry Commission is currently preparing a common digital base map for all woodland as part of the national inventory, which will ensure monitoring takes place against definitive woodland areas. This map will be in place in 2010. We anticipate that new technologies of remote sensing developed by Forest Research will help ensure the digital map is regularly updated. Based on the digital map, a sample survey will be undertaken to provide data on a wide range of forest attributes.
The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) sets out a framework of performance requirements for forest management in the UK. The UKFS is currently being revised (expected publication 2010) and the new version will link more closely with the Forestry Guidelines. These articulate the principles of good forest practice on a range of forest management topics including climate change. They have the scientific backing and support of Forest Research. The UKFS is implemented through the regulatory functions of the Forestry Commission and the Forest Service at country level. In addition an overarching independent sample audit will be introduced.
The Forestry Commission is a competent GB authority under the Plant Health Acts; the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is the competent authority in Northern Ireland. Scientific support for the Commission’s plant health officers will continue to be provided from the science budget.
Recent tree health outbreaks caused by Phytophthora species, Red Band Needle Blight, and Oak Processionary Moth have underlined the need to maintain an experienced team of pathologists and entomologists capable of carrying out both strategic research and ‘fire brigade’ investigation of new problems. This capacity will be maintained in Forest Research and its effectiveness enhanced by seeking opportunities for collaboration with other experts experienced in this area. The Phytophthora programme with the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) to contain and eradicate the two new diseases has clearly demonstrated the value of partnership at all levels. We recognise that emerging threats, such as this, may demand immediate reallocation of resources and impact on planned strategic shifts in the balance of resources.
Links to the monitoring and biosecurity research programmes are listed below.