The Government suspended all woodland sales in February 2011 when it announced the creation of the Independent Panel on Forestry. The Forestry Commission’s records of historical sales and acquisitions published here show that the last woodland sales went through in April 2011. These sales were already committed to before the 2011 suspension was announced.
Until the suspension, Forestry Commission England had a programme of sales according to criteria agreed each year with Ministers. The criteria tended to keep those woodlands with highest public benefit and conservation value and selected to sell those woodlands with lowest public benefit or that were inefficient to manage.
Most income from sales was reinvested, although for a few years some was used as part of overall budgets. Protection for all woodland exists regardless of ownership through Forestry and Planning legislation. Public access dedicated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act as well as Public Rights of Way remains in place regardless of ownership.
The Independent Panel on Forestry published its final report in July 2012 and the Government published its response, together with its Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement, in January 2013. This committed to maintaining the public forest estate in public ownership, managed by a new operationally independent body.