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Policy Roundup – February 2024

Our monthly policy and research blog updates you on the latest work at the Institute and how you can get involved.

Institute news

This month we announced the four shortlisted candidates for Professional Forester of the Year 2024 – Gordon Brown MICFor, Iwan Lloyd-Williams MICFor, Kenton Rogers MICFor and Dr Eleanor Tew MICFor. This prestigious award recognises the contributions made by Chartered Arboriculturists or Chartered Foresters to the betterment of forestry on a community, regional, national or international level. Professional Forester of the Year is awarded for a specific project, or range of activities, undertaken by a Chartered member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters within the last three years. We are delighted that the shortlist features two Emerging Leaders.

On 8 February, we hosted the much-anticipated Woods into Management partnership webinar, featuring presentations from the Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and Small Woods. The webinar was attended by over 500 delegates and took us on a journey on how to engage with our un-managed woodlands, exploring options for managing for resilience and demonstrating that understanding a landowner’s objectives is key. You can catch up with the webinar here.

Our Technical Policy Manager, Shona Smyth MICFor, met with members of the Scottish Government’s Planning Team on 15 February to discuss the Biodiversity: draft planning guidance and the National Planning Framework (NPF). This meeting comes after concerns were raised by members surrounding the biodiversity metrics and trees in planning. We are calling for increased consultation with the development of the NatureScot biodiversity metric and for arboriculture professionals to be key stakeholders with the development of the NPF.

Lastly, on the 27 and 28 February Shona Smyth MICFor and Dr Rob Hawkins, Senior Education and Outreach Officer, attended the Green Skills Delivery: Education & Outreach and Green Skills Delivery: Investment and Incentives group meetings, hosted by the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF). These working groups have been created following the publication of the EPF Green Skills survey, findings and recommendations published in December 2023, to bring partner together to deliver on the recommendations.


We are asking members to share their views to ensure the sector is represented for four current consultations.

The Sustainable Farming Scheme is looking for our views on the long-term programme to support the agriculture industry in Wales, including the 10% requirement for trees on farms. This consultation closes on 7 March. We hosted a drop-in session on the 15 February, where members attended to share their views and provide feedback on the Institute’s draft response. We would like to thank the members that took the time do participate.

The Welsh Government has also opened a call for evidence and expertise on the delivery of careers education, skills, training and development for agricultural, horticultural and forestry workers in Wales. Please send your comments to Shona Smyth MICFor by 15 March and respond individually online by 2 April. We are holding a drop-in session on 14 March from 15:00 – 16:30 – contact Shona Smyth MICFor to register your interest.

We are also encouraging members to respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on Managing Deer for Climate and Nature, closing on 29 March, and the Welsh Government’s Environmental Principles, Governance and Biodiversity Targets: White Paper, closing 30 April.


Shona Smyth MICFor attended the Forest Plastics Working Group meeting on 21 February that featured several presentations, including an update on the Global Plastics Treaty, which is making slow progress with publication likely in 2025/26. Other topics included an update from Dr Willoughby into the alternatives to plastic tree shelter trials – more research is needed into the biodegradation with plenty of new products coming to market. Dr Bas Boots, Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, then discussed the impact biodegradable plastics can have on soils, including the impact on carbon store and the influence on plant development.

Special Interest & Steering groups

Our Arboriculture and Urban Forestry Steering Group will be hosting the first ‘Tree Surgery’ hour on 21 March from 16:30 – 17:30. This is a great opportunity for all our members to network so please come along and talk all things arboriculture and urban forestry at this informal drop-in session. More details to follow.

Sector news, guidance and reports

Adding the Woodland Carbon Code to the UK’s Emissions Trading Scheme could unlock 26% of land for woodland creation
King’s College London

Watch a recent Welsh Parliament Economy, Trade, and Rural Affairs Committee meeting
Senedd Cymru

Tom Bradshaw takes over from Minette Batters as President of the NFU

Defra team reflects on the last six months of their tree planting programmes

Trees at risk on nurseries due to Scottish funding cuts

Campaigners criticise Sheffield leaders over street tree scandal
Forestry Journal

Terms and conditions published for Registered Woodland Planners in Wales
Welsh Government

Biodiversity Net Gain in England now mandatory for planners, local authorities and land managers

Read about the Forestry Commission’s first Restocking Order following an illegal felling Enforcement Notice
Forestry Commission

CIEEM report on Biodiversity Net Gain

Research on the different gut microbiota between grey and red squirrels
Forestry Journal

Reforestation has helped cool parts of eastern USA stalling effects of climate warming
The Guardian

£2 million for timber transport in Scotland
Scottish Forestry

Kevin Quinlan announced as Forestry and Land Scotland’s new Chief Executive
Forestry and Land Scotland

Fairer markets and more incentives will be key to farmers uptake of the Sustainable Farming Scheme in Wales says Soil Association
Soil Association

Updated guidance on managing Sites of Special Scientific Interest and ancient woodlands with ash dieback
Forestry Commission

Average carbon data for the ten major timber product categories published
Timber Development UK

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