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NEWS RELEASE No: 1543527 APRIL 2012

Forest Research science review

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Scientist preparing Sitka spruce needles for DNA extraction prior to polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

The Forestry Commission today published its response to the recent independent review of the quality of science delivered by its Forest Research agency.

The review was undertaken to provide the Forestry Commissioners with an independent, expert assessment of the research, scientific and technical services and knowledge exchange being provided by Forest Research by considering the work being done for the Forestry Commission and other customers.
It focussed on two main areas:

  • fitness for purpose and science quality – the quality of the research, innovation and development and knowledge exchange work being undertaken in Forest Research; and
  • the extent to which Forest Research’s research programmes are contributing to its overall aims as set out in its 2011-12 Corporate Plan and in its science strategy, Forest Research Science Focus.

The Independent Review was chaired by Professor Sir David Read FRS, and took place between 13 and 15 December 2011.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach, Forestry Minister, who visited Alice Holt Lodge today to see the work of Forest Research scientists, commented,

“The work which Forest Research does is of huge importance to the UK forestry sector, and I welcome this timely review and the Forestry Commission’s response to it.

“"The review group has identified three outstanding programmes of research. It has made helpful recommendations for improving the quality of other programmes, in particular the greater use of peer review.

“Forest Research, working across the Defra family, delivers critical science in a number of areas, including evidence to support biosecurity strategies to counter the impacts of tree pests and diseases. Robust policy requires high-quality evidence, and independent reviews such as this help to ensure that the scientific evidence employed by government in policy making is of the highest quality.”

Dr James Pendlebury, Forest Research Chief Executive said,

“We are grateful to the members of the review group for their rigorous and perceptive report. It indicated that there are some excellent research programmes, and some others where there is room for improvement.

“Within Forest Research, we are constantly striving to improve the quality of our science, to support, for example, ongoing efforts to eradicate Asian longhorn beetle or control Phytophthora ramorum, and this provides us with an independent benchmark against which to assess our progress.”

The Forestry Commission response to the Review Group report can be found at


  1. The Forestry Commission is the government forestry department for Great Britain. It works to improve the lives of people through the many environmental, social and economic benefits which sustainably managed trees, woods and forests can provide. See
  2. Forest Research is an agency of the Forestry Commission which carries out world-class scientific research and technical development relevant to forestry for a range of internal and external clients. See
  3. The Board of Forestry Commissioners oversees the work of the Forestry Commission on behalf of Ministers in the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments.

Media contact: Charlton Clark, 0131 314 6500