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Using contractors

In most woodlands all but the smallest and simplest jobs require specialist contractors with the appropriate experience to carry out a job safely and with minimal damage. Some contractors specialise in harvesting, extraction, planting or forest maintenance. Others, often smaller, contractors, will take on all aspects of woodland management.

Employing a contractor

Timber can be sold standing, or felled and extracted to roadside. For harvesting work, standing trees may be pre-sold and the buyer is responsible for the felling and extraction of the timber. If the owner or manager wants more control over the sale of timber, a harvesting contractor may be employed only to take down and extract the timber to a roadside area set aside for stacking timber.

For the installation of forest tracks, a specialist contractor with civil engineering experience should be used.

Contractor checklist: 

• Public and professional liability insurance
• Risk assessment
• Competency certificate, e.g. NPTC
• Personal protective equipment and first aid kit
• Leaks and spills pollution kit
• Leave rides and tracks in a good state to use afterwards
• Remove mud and debris from boots, clothing, tools, equipment and vehicles before leaving site
• Observes good biosecurity practice to limit the spread of pests and disease around your site or use an agent who can do the above for you.

Minimising risk

It’s important to make sure the contractor understands and appreciates the need to minimise damage and disruption to the woodland. This will help them to meet your woodland management plan objective, if you have one, and reduce damage to the roots of other trees, ground flora and soils. Contractors should provide the owner with risk assessments for the work, copies of relevant qualifications (such as chainsaw or pesticide use), as well as insurance documents for professional and public liability. In return the owner or manager should provide clear instructions of what work is to be carried out, point out any potential hazards, provide copies of necessary Felling Licences or consents and meet the agreed payment terms. They should also follow our guidance on European Protected Species (EPS) when working in the woods.

Managing woodlands

Woodland management is the long-term maintenance of your woodland that delivers your business and woodland management plan objectives. It can also unlock extra income. Your woodland is a valuable resource, so make it work for your business by:

  • Boosting income from sale of timber and woodfuel, game shoots or tourism
  • Enhance the capital value of your estate
  • Access grants and expertise to help improve or create new woodland

Our woodland experts can help you manage your woodland, in your own way. Our support ranges from showing you how to access various grants to helping you produce an effective UK Forestry Standard compliant woodland management plan.

Felling also improves timber value and creates the diverse edge habitats for our rare and declining woodland species. Your local woodland officer can also help you apply for felling licences.

Biosecurity measures: Keep it clean

  • Think kit – scrape, brush or knock mud and debris from your footwear, clothing and equipment
  • Think transport – remove any build-up of mud and debris from vehicles and machinery before leaving any site
  • Think trees – source plants responsibly, monitor for signs of ill health and report suspect plants using our Tree Alert online form

Biosecurity advice - Keep it clean

Useful links

United Kingdom Forest Standard
European Protected Species
Felling Licence Application guidance
Managing deadwood in forests and woodlands
Information on pests and diseases
Climate change and forests

How can I get involved?

We and our partners are working hard to bring more woodland into active management and provide on-the-ground support and expert advice. For more information: 0300 067 4000 or

Last updated: 31st January 2018

What's of interest

It’s good to talk
Take advantage of local knowledge from woodland officers and other land or forestry organisations. They can help to identify local contacts or contractors within the skilled supply chain to help you get the most from your woodlands.

Before entering into a contract, check that contractors hold appropriate qualifications and that they can be trusted to do a good job. Ensure everybody understands what trees are to be thinned and removed during operation.

Your woodland is a valuable resource, so why not use it to generate additional income, support your commercial objectives and enhance biodiversity?