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The Forestry Commission

The forest at Bedgebury PinetumThe Forestry Commission

The Forestry Commission was established in 1919 after the First World War as a non-ministerial Government Department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. Its mission is to protect and expand Britain's forests and woodlands and increase their value to society and the environment.

The Forestry Commission manages 7,720 square kilometres of land in Great Britain, 60% of which is in Scotland, 26% in England and the remainder in Wales. Activities carried out on the forest estate include timber harvesting to supply domestic industry, replanting of harvested areas, maintenance and improvement of the natural environment and the provision of recreation.

The Forestry Commission is also the government body responsible for the regulation of forestry nationally. Part of this role is carried out through the disbursement of funding in support of private forests and woodlands.

The Forestry Commission is now the largest provider of outdoor recreation in Britain. It is working with many user groups to promote the use of its land for recreation such as walking, cycling and horse riding. There are many such projects throughout Britain. Bedgebury is a notable and successful example of this.


  • Improving the quality of our leisure, providing accessible space for sports, arts and play, encouraging people to get out and about and live a healthier lifestyle.
  • Improving the quality of the environment for local communities.
  • Providing an important resource for learning about nature.
  • Contributing to local employment and the economy in some of the more remote areas of the country through tourism and timber production.
  • Carrying out research into the environment, biodiversity, land regeneration and plant health.
  • Providing renewable energy and helping to alleviate the impact of climate change.

Bedgebury forest.What the Forestry Commission does

  • Protects and promotes the benefits of trees and woodlands

  • Advises government on forestry policy
  • Manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development
  • Manages over 204,000 hectares of woodland in England - a quarter of England's two billion trees. England's woodlands have increased by nearly 70% over the last 75 years, and now accounts for over 8% of the land area
  • Created 7,452 hectares of new woodland and 56,800 hectares of public access to existing woodland within or adjacent to FC Social and Regeneration Priority Areas since 1999
  • Single largest provider of countryside recreation in England, with over 100 million visits to our woodlands each year

  • Hosts internationally-acclaimed music concerts at seven sites, bringing in over 100,000 people into the unique natural arenas of woodland

  • Manages over 2,500km of cycle trails - the length of the Great Wall of China - as well as devising routes for horse riding, all mobility access, sculpture trails and calorie counted health walks
  • Runs over 1000 "Active Woods" events every year, as part of a campaign to promote healthy outdoor exercise

  • Runs learning events for 100,000 young people, including excluded children and young offenders
  • Manages over 67,000 hectares of designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and contributes to 65 action plans for endangered species, such as red squirrel, woodlark, dormouse, and pearl bordered fritillary
  • Employs 6,166 jobs in England, and supports a further 8,573 jobs in related industries. It is relevant to everybody's lives, with every person in Britain using the equivalent of one tonne of wood a year.







England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.