Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committee (FWAC) is the working title of the statutory Regional Advisory Committees constituted under the Forestry Act 1967 (as amended). The 9 Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees advise the Commission, through our Area Directors, on the implementation of Government’s forestry and woodlands policy in each Area and its constituent regions.
Each FWAC covers a distinct area of England and consists of an independent Chair and eleven members appointed by the Forestry Commissioners. The composition of each FWAC is designed to achieve a spread of interests in the region. Members will include representatives from three separate chambers of interest: forestry industry and landowner; social, access and environment expertise; and local community, economy and government.
Members are appointed in a personal capacity, whether or not they are nominated by a representative body. Members are expected to be well informed of the interest they represent, but not to act as official representatives of their nominating bodies. The Chairs are consulted on all committee appointments. Members, including the Chairs, are normally invited to serve for three years and the service is normally limited to two terms, although a third term may be served in some circumstances, such as unique and valuable expertise or to help ensure continuity.
Chairs receive remuneration in return for about 10 days service per annum. All members are entitled to receive travel and subsistence payments. Each Committee normally meets three times a year with a combination of indoor and outdoor meetings, with scope for occasional joint meetings within the respective Forest Services Area of operations.
- Advocate and champion forestry interests and woodlands partnership working at local level for woodland resilience and sector development, providing independent insight into local needs and priorities
- Provide advice, expertise and challenge on the application of national policies into Area and local programmes, and assist in aggregating local priorities into national programmes
- Support the Government’s interests by engaging with and developing strong local connections and networks to enhance synergies across the diverse forest and woodland sector, including the public forest estate
- Conciliate in disputed applications for grant aid, felling licences, or approval of forest plans where there is a sustained objection by a statutory body
The nine FWACs advise on a range of issues, including the implementation of policy at a sub national level. In recent years this has included involvement in the Forest Regulation Task Force, engagement with the Independent Panel on Forestry and the development of the Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement. Regional Advisory Committees are widely respected for their advice and valuable contribution in furthering of forestry policy in England.
Forestry and Woodlands Advisory Committees now have a crucial role to play in advising the Commission on its delivery priorities following the publication of the Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement, as well as acting as high profile leaders to encourage wider partnerships to help ensure the delivery of sub-national priorities. In this work FWACs come into contact with regional bodies as well as local authority and forest industry contacts, thereby broadening their influence.
This is an important function with FWAC Chairs working to ensure good two-way communication between their Committee and the Commission. Together they ensure that matters of particular concern to forestry interests in their region are made known to the Commission and that the Committee is kept informed of the Commissioners’ policies and the work of the Commission. Twice a year the Chairs meet with England Forestry Commissioners and senior staff to discuss matters of particular importance.
FWACs also have an informal role in furthering the interests of forestry in the community. However, their role is advisory, not promotional or executive. They therefore need to draw a distinction between their position as the Forestry Commissioners’ advisers and their activities in other capacities.
The activities of FWAC Chairs and members is covered by a Code of Conduct.