Forestry Commissioner

Dr Mary Barkham

Dr Mary Barkham


Mary is an independent consultant specialising in environmental research strategy, co-ordination and implementation.

She has 14 years’ leadership experience in the UK’s Research Councils, mainly the Natural Environment Research Council. From 2002 to 2010 she led the Environment Research Funders’ Forum (ERFF), which co-ordinated environmental science in the UK.

In 2010, as Deputy Director of the Living with Environmental Change Partnership (LWEC), a collaboration of public-sector funders and users of environmental change research, Mary was involved in the creation of a UK research strategy on flooding and coastal erosion. She also led the production of a series of climate change impact report cards to inform climate change risk assessment and adaptation in the UK, and worked with the Forestry Commission and Defra on tree health, leading to the development of the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative.

After post-doctoral research at the University of Reading and at Long Ashton Research Station, she spent 10 years working on fungicide development in the agri-chemical industry, specialising in downy mildew diseases.

Forestry Commissioner

Forestry Commissioners have a number of specific statutory duties and powers, summarised in the Forestry Act as:

  • promoting the interests of forestry
  • the development of afforestation
  • the production and supply of timber and other forest products

In practice, these mainly relate to providing incentives (grants), regulation though controls on felling, plant health issues and managing the public forest estate.

The Commissioners have a legal duty to seek a reasonable balance between the production and supply of timber and the interests of conservation. In promoting the multiple benefits of forestry, they also seek to take careful account of people’s needs and wishes, including local communities.

Forestry Commission