New changes to strengthen the role of the Forestry Commission and protect England’s forests for future generations have been announced today by Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey.
From April 2019 Scottish Ministers will take on full responsibility for their national forests – meaning the Forestry Commission will remain in England, continuing to protect, improve and expand some of the country’s best-known landscapes, from the Forest of Dean to Northumberland’s Kielder Forest.
The Commission will continue to manage more than 250,000 hectares of England’s Public Forest Estate, with a new board of Commissioners established to oversee this.
The world-renowned Forest Research will remain as an agency of the Forestry Commission, working closely with partners across the UK.
Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:
Our forests and woodlands are vital for providing timber, protecting wildlife, and helping us improve our environment for the next generation.
Public forests in particular are one of our greatest national assets, and the Forestry Commission’s work to enhance woodlands across England remains at the heart of our environmental ambitions.
These arrangements provide certainty for the Commission and its staff, helping some of our most precious landscapes thrive into the future.
The Forestry Commission will maintain its specialist forestry expertise, continuing to offer support, advice and guidance to land owners and managers responsible for England’s woodlands.
The new Board of Commissioners will bring strong experience in commercial, community and environmental backgrounds that will complement the work of the new organisation.
The changes will coincide with the Forestry Commission’s Centenary year in 2019.
Sir Harry Studholme, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said:
This is an exciting moment for the Forestry Commission. After nearly a century of creating and managing Britain’s forests, the transfer of formal responsibility for Scotland’s forests to the Scottish Government will allow the Forestry Commission in England to increase its focus on the needs of English users.
This will strengthen the Commission in its role of safeguarding and protecting the Public Forest Estate now and for the next 100 years.
The English, Scottish and Welsh Governments will continue to work together to commission forest research, sustain high standards for forestry in the UK, and protect trees against pests and diseases.