Print page print this page

Consultation Responses and Open Letters


Forestry policy

EFRA committee Tree Planting and Woodlands inquiry

December 2020

Efra Response

The Royal Forestry Society has submitted written evidence to the EFRA committee Tree Planting and Woodland inquiry. We have outlined eight key points we believe are essential if ambitious woodland creation targets are to be achieved. Read our evidence in full here. 

  • Government woodland creation targets are achievable but there is a large gap between ambition and action. This will not happen quickly so targets must be calibrated accordingly.
  • Government ambition in England must be matched with the scale of funding required to drive a step change in the rate of woodland creation and management.
  • Institutional and bureaucratic barriers to woodland creation must be removed.
  • The UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) should be the common basis on which forestry policy and practice is developed and delivered. We are currently falling short of this standard.
  • Climate change mitigation and adaptation should be at the heart of forestry policy as the most effective way to draw together multiple environmental and economic benefits of trees and woods.
  • A big effort to build knowledge and skills through education and training at all levels, is a pre-requisite for success. This effort is currently chronically underfunded.
  • A stronger focus on improving the condition of existing broadleaf woodland is vital for their resilience to pests, disease and climate change. This requires funding.
  • Evidence suggests cooperation between devolved administrations is not a major cause for concern but a GB-wide framework for biosecurity policy which respects country specifics is required as a matter of priority post Brexit.

English Tree Strategy consultation

11 September 2020: We submitted our responses to the Defra English Tree Strategy (ETS) consultation on how to increase tree planting and tree and woodland management. The RFS sees this as an important opportunity to help shape the future of woodland and forestry management in England for decades to come. We have consulted with our members and with other allied organisations and have submitted the following five documents. We are committed to working with Defra to make the ETS a success.

  • RFS open response – summarising our position on nine key issues. Read it here.
  • RFS survey response – read it here.
  • Joint RFS, ICF and CONFOR response – featuring six clear messages from the forestry sector. Read it here.
  • Forestry Climate Change Working Group (FCCWG) response—a cross sector response calling for climate change adaptation to be central to the ETS’s aims and objectives. Read it here.
  • Forestry Skills Forum (FSF)) response – a cross sector response pointing out that the ETS will only be as effective as the people who can deliver its aims and calling for investment in resources for training and skills to be an integral part of the ETS. Read it here.


DEFRA's Environmental Land Management Discussion Document

July: Following extensive consultation with forestry organsations, foresters and stakeholders, a joint response from the Institute of Chartered Foresters, Confor, the Royal Forestry Society(RFS) and the Woodland Trust was submitted in response to Environmental Land Management (ELM) policy discussion document published by Defra. It builds on an earlier position statement.

Read the full response here. 


Resilient woodland and forestry


In July, the RFS followed up an article in The Times featuring plans to plant Eucalyptus on the Chatworth Estate with a letter to the Editor emphasizing the importance of considering alternative productive species in future woodland management plans and pointing out that eucalyptus in not invasive. Read the letter here.

In June, the RFS responded here to the latest tree planting figures for new woodland creation in England saying they were continuing to fall woefully short of government targets.The RFS was quoted in an article by Ben Webster in The Times referencing our member survey looking at the barriers to planting experienced by woodland owners and managers. Read the article here and here.

In February, the RFS commented on the £30bn pledge to plant more trees and was quoted in an article by Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times. Read the article here.


Climate change and sustainable forestry

In February we warned that growing not planting trees is key to unlocking climate change benefits as we published our Forestry and Climate Change policy. The RFS fears planting millions of trees risks being a short-term indulgence if we don’t then commit to long term sustainable management. And it says this must start with recognising timber as a carbon store.

In February a letter from the RFS was published in the Farmers Guardian calling on the governement to incentivise the recyling of plastic tree tubes. Read the letter here.


Our consultation responses and open letters from 2011-2019 are available here.