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A welcome shift in thought around timber production in England’s forests

The Institute of Chartered Foresters welcomed the recent Environmental Audit Committee Report on its publication yesterday (19 July) that highlights a balanced case for productive forests and environmental targets featuring in tandem within our landscape.

As the professional body for forestry and arboriculture, our broad membership covering a spectrum of interests, including productive and environmental foresters, is one of our greatest strengths. Our mission is to be a balanced, impartial and collaborative voice upholding professional standards, evidence-based decision making and social and environmental responsibility. We are pleased to support this inquiry, which recognises the importance of cross-sector collaboration, demonstrated through the breadth of sectors evidenced in this report.

This report comes following the Sustainable Timber and Deforestation inquiry in September 2022, in which the Environmental Audit Committee announced that it is to look at the links between the sustainability of the UK’s timber industry, imports of key commodities, and global deforestation. At the time, we welcomed the opportunity to support the Committee’s inquiry with evidence on a critically important topic and hoped to see stronger political leadership to drive forward this agenda. You can read our initial response here.

The Institute’s Executive Director Louise Simpson is “much heartened by the commitment of the current forestry minister, with the Institute’s concerns under previous ministerial direction put to bed through this inquiry”.

The report, Seeing the wood for the trees: the contribution of the forestry and timber sectors to biodiversity and net zero goals, recognises and acknowledges all sectors of the forestry industry and appraises their contributions in growing the UK timber industry. We support the recognition provided to productive forestry within the UK Forestry Standard revision, ensuring that all outcomes are compatible with our nature and climate goals. This is a step towards removing the unhelpful debate surrounding native and exotic species. Our forest nurseries should receive clarity over government’s environmental targets and commitment to allow for effective planning and preparation of our nurseries’ resources to assist with delivering these ambitious targets for planting and resilience.

We recognise the need for more woods under active management following sustainability principles, as per the UK Forestry Standard, to mitigate threats and increase resilience. Our partnership with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) on a pending position paper highlights the opportunities of bringing woodlands back into management, acknowledging the importance and the need for all types of woodland.

There is still progress to be made with striking a balance between food and timber security, as well as meeting environmental and net zero targets. Louise Simpson added “we welcome Defra’s engagement with the forestry, timber and construction sectors and await further progress on the industry-led National Wood Strategy and the publication of the Timber in Construction Roadmap. The Institute hopes that these will provide further support to this report in providing clarification on how we can meet our domestic timber needs and reduce offshoring.”

The Institute will be in touch with the Minister for Natural Environment and Land Use, Trudy Harrison MP, to discuss how our membership, one that is truly representative of the forestry sector as a whole, can support the recommendations for both productive and environmental outcomes from this inquiry.

The Institute would like to extend personal thanks to Justin Mumford FICFor, Director of Consultancy at Nicholsons, for representing the Institute and its members at the Environmental Audit Committee oral evidence: Sustainable timber and deforestation on Wednesday 7 December 2022.


For media enquiries or further information, please contact the Institute’s Marketing & Communications Officer, Alice Hancock –

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