Tree Planting and Woodlands Report: RFS response

The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) has broadly welcomed a new EFRA Committee report which calls for more Government focus to achieve woodland planting targets.

By Wendy Necar · March 24, 2022

RFS Chief Executive Christopher Williams

The EFRA committee report Tree Planting and Woodlands says three things are needed if the government is to achieve its woodland creation aims:

  • comprehensive annual planting target
  • better finance schemes
  • more accurate mapping

RFS Chief Executive Christopher Williams says: “ We are delighted the Committee has addressed many of the concerns expressed by the RFS and other organisations. Tree planting has been woefully low for many years. Without a clearer focus from the Government the step up to planting 30,000 hectares of new woodland every year in the UK by 2025 will be missed.”

He warns there also needs to be clear targets set to incentivize more woodland owners to bring under-managed woodland into management. This could be achieved through the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

He says: “An estimated 40% of our woods remain unmanaged or under-managed. That means they are not producing good timber, spaces for wildlife and people to enjoy or other public benefits.

“One of the recommendations in the report asks Defra to review the length of maintenance payments to support more woods into management.  The RFS is calling on Defra and the Forestry Commission to work with the forestry sector. We want them to go further, for example by ensuring the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) is open to all woodland owners and managers.”

Welcoming the recommendation in the report to significantly increase the woodland creation workforce by 2025 he said: “The RFS strongly supports this call to develop capacity in the sector.  This week the RFS has launched a new Level 1 qualification for young people aged 14+ as their first step on the path to a career in forestry. Written by the RFS Learning and Outreach team, it is designed to be deliverable within the local community and by school teachers or forest school leaders.”

Read the report here.