The government's Forestry and Woodland Policy Statement issued in January 2013 made a number of commitments to support the future of our forests in England. One of the most important was that England’s Public Forest Estate would remain secured in public ownership. It said that a new body would be created to hold the estate in trust for the nation.
Early in 2013 there was also a review of the forestry functions of government in England. The report reached a number of important conclusions, including that government’s forestry functions in England are highly valuable, that government’s forestry expertise should be kept together in a forestry focused unit, and not merged with Natural England or the Environment Agency. A number of options remain open and following the review Minister sought further input to inform their decisions.
The Woodland Policy Enabling Programme (WPEP) was set up in May 2013 to ensure that the work to develop advice to Ministers on these issues, and to implement any changes, is carried out in an integrated manner, taking full account of the implications for all the objectives of the Forestry Commission in England.
We formally consulted our trade unions and staff in connection with the WPEP.
The public consultation closed on 25 September 2013.