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Forestry legislation and regulation

The Forestry Commissioners' responsibilities and powers are derived mainly from the Forestry Act 1967 and Plant Health Act 1967.

Other Acts and Statutory Instruments also apply, including the Forestry Commission ByeLaws, 1982


We have powers to prevent loss of tree cover and ensure that new forests and related operations don’t harm the environment. Owners may have to apply to us for a felling licence, agree with us a long term forest plan to manage existing woodlands, or in some cases, where the work might cause significant effects on the environment, seek our consent before starting any work. We also have powers to investigate suspected illegal felling and issue Restocking Notices that ensure felled areas are replanted.  Forest management work on the forests in our care is agreed through Forest Design Plans.

To protect trees from pests and disease we manage plant health legislation and carry out inspections of imported timber. We can prohibit landing of timber, order timber to be fumigated or destroyed, and can seek prosecution through the courts.

We administer Forest Reproductive Material Regulations to provide assurance of the source of tree seeds, cones cuttings and other planting stock. This ensures that planting stock is traceable through the collection and production process to a registered source of basic material. We maintain the national register of approved material and certify suppliers.

Enforcement policy

Regulations in England

Last updated: 11th July 2017