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Task force to review forestry regulation

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The membership and terms of reference of an independent task force to look at whether and how the regulatory burden on forest-based business in England can be reduced was announced today.

The formation of the Forestry Regulation Task Force was previously announced by Jim Paice, Forestry Minister, at the APF International Forestry Exhibition last September.

The Forestry Regulation Task Force will identify the most appropriate mechanisms to ensure the effective and efficient regulation of the forest and woodland sector. This will support those who wish to create and sustainably manage forests and help to promote a more competitive forestry sector. It will do this by:

  • reviewing all the relevant regulations governing the management of existing forests and the establishment of new ones – looking also at the way those regulations are implemented; and
  • identifying the impact of regulation on businesses throughout the wood supply chain.

Welcoming the announcement, Pam Warhurst, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said,

"I am keen that the Forestry Commission and other regulatory bodies operate in the best interests of the sector with proportionate, risk-based and targeted regulation, against clear standards, while also preserving and advancing all the other benefits that woods and forests provide.

"I therefore look forward to hearing the task force’s suggestions in support of a more competitive, profitable and commercially resilient sector that continues to play a part in a low-carbon economy, biodiversity protection and economic recovery."

The task force will be chaired by Chris Starr, who said:

"This is an exciting and timely initiative, designed to encourage woodland creation and promote sustainable management. Many woodlands in England are neglected, partly because the owners see the regulatory environment as a disincentive to active involvement.

"I am looking forward to working with a talented and highly experienced team, helping to develop an innovative and responsible approach to the implementation of forestry-related regulations."

The task force will seek views directly from a wide range of stakeholders including the forestry industry, NGOs and community representatives. There will also be an opportunity to post comments electronically.

The task force will report its findings to the Government by summer 2011. Further information is available on the Forestry Commission website at

Notes to editor:

1. In addition to Chris Starr, the task force will comprise:

  • Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor);
  • George McRobbie, Forestry Operations Director for UPM Tilhill;
  • John Morris, Director of the Chilterns Woodlands Project;
  • Gordon Pfetscher, UK Operations Manager for the Woodland Trust;
  • Mike Seville, Forestry and Woodland Advisor to the CLA; and
  • John Wilding, General Manager forestry and environmental economy for Clinton Devon Estates.

2. Chris Starr is a chartered forester and independent consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in the sector. He has worked as a woodland officer and as Head of the National School of Forestry, and is the author of a book promoting the active management of small woodlands for new owners. He has served on the Council of the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF), chairing its Educational Standards Committee for four years, on the Sector Skills Council and on the Forestry Commission’s Expert Group on Research and Development. Last year he was awarded the ICF Medal for services to British forestry.

3. Terms of Reference

Overall Purpose - The task force will identify ways to reduce the regulatory burden on those who seek to create and sustainably manage forests, helping to support a more competitive, profitable and commercially resilient sector which continues to play a part in economic recovery. In addition, achieving this aim will make a tangible contribution to ensuring that England’s forests and woodlands continue to provide a range of goods and services of value to society. For example, storing carbon, producing timber and woodfuel, helping society and wildlife adapt to climate change, conserving biodiversity, and encouraging healthy physical activity and enjoyment of the natural environment.

The task force will carry out a review of relevant regulations and their implementation for both the management of existing forests and the establishment of new ones. It will also seek to understand the impact of regulation on businesses both up and down the wood supply chain.

Scope - The review will look at areas of regulation affecting forestry in England, but will advise where issues relevant to devolved administrations are identified.

The review will advise on how best to achieve a proportionate, risk-based and targeted approach to regulations relevant to forestry-related businesses to facilitate the development of the woodfuel and wood products sector and promote the principles of sustainable woodland/forest creation and management.

The review will take the opportunity to look at ways of reducing and simplifying the burden associated with the implementation of the regulations surrounding the Rural Development Programme for England’s grant funding for the forestry sector.  More specifically, how can grants administration processes be simplified?

The review will also look at health and safety regulations, but will exclude other cross-cutting regulations such as employment law.  This review will complement the Review of Farming Regulations to ensure that other legislation, such as that relating to biodiversity conservation and a more integrated approach to land management, is covered in the most appropriate way.

Areas of focus - Where can regulations affecting forestry be implemented in a more proportionate, risk-based, targeted and efficient way?
What lessons can be learned from the approaches taken in other countries with well developed forest sectors and cultures?
Where can inspections be reduced when risks are low?
How can a more outcome-focused approach be taken: what is it that is trying to be achieved?
How can the concept and practice of ‘earned recognition’ be best applied to the sector?
How can regulators work better together?
Is the UK ‘gold-plating’ any EU legislation/directives? Can these burdens be removed?
What regulatory burdens are deterring sustainable forest management or threatening woodland owners and managers’ profitability?
How might changes to the regulatory framework attract new entrants to the sector and promote a greater interest in active and sustainable woodland management?

Media Contact: Charlton Clark, 0131 314 6500