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Regulations affecting habitats and wildlife

Compliance with the law is a fundamental expectation of the UK Forestry Standard and land managers should be aware that a number of regulations affect forests and their management.

Information on some of the key regulations land managers should consider when planning operations in woodland is provided on these web pages. This advice may not be comprehensive and land managers are advised to check the legislation before starting work.

Natural England are responsible for many of the regulations that protect the natural environment, including the management and licensing of wildlife. More information on their regulatory work can be found on their web site.

European Protected Species (EPS)
Several of the species covered by the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 are found in woodland. These regulations therefore have implications for how woodlands are managed and forestry operations carried out.

For more information on EPS and the steps land managers should take to safeguard them please see our EPS web page.

Protection for designated sites
Work within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) may require Natural England’s consent under Part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). To streamline the process of obtaining Natural England's consent for forestry operations within SSSIs, we can issue Natural England's consent if the applicant submits a Supplementary Notice of Operations with their felling or EWGS application to us. For more information on this process please see our SSSI web page

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Wild birds and certain woodland animals and plants are protected under Part I of this Act. It essentially requires that the risks tree work and work in woodland pose to wildlife are carefully assessed. And that the work is planned to ensure the animals listed in the Act’s schedules are not intentionally harmed or killed and that their nests or dwellings are not damaged or destroyed.

  • All wild birds and their nests are protected – though the nests of only some birds are protected when not in use.
  • Wild animals that are protected and which may be found in woodland include:
  • Bats and their roosts – these are European Protected Species.
  • Purple emperor butterfly.
  • Pearl-boarded fritillary.
  • White letter hairstreak.
  • Black hairstreak.
  • Duke of Burgundy.
  • Red squirrels and their drays.

Wild plants listed in schedule 8 of this Act are protected and must not be intentionally uprooted or destroyed during forest operations. Woodland plants protected in the Act include bluebell and Juniper.

The Protection of Badgers Act 1992
This Act restricts the killing, injuring or taking of badgers or interference with their setts. It is often possible to achieve this by following good practice  when planning and undertaking forestry operations. In rare occasions where there is doubt over whether damage or disturbance to badgers would occur or where it is clear that damage or disturbance would be unavoidable a license from Natural England may be required.

Last updated: 9th August 2016