Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Policy Roundup – June 2023

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

Institute news

Institute’s Council meets

On the 6 and 7 June, the Institute’s Council met in Hereford to welcome new trustees, discuss our current five-year strategy’s progress and priorities for the coming years, and recent work of the Institute. The Institute’s Senior Technical Officer, Shona Smyth MICFor, presented on our approach to representation and consultations, with Council feeding in their views on how best to utilise the Institute’s limited capacity, and how best to draw input from members to maximise reach and effectiveness.

Dr Rob Hawkins, Senior Education and Outreach Officer, presented results from a recent review of regional activity. This included benchmarking with other professional bodies, conversations with critical friends and a survey of all members on their views on the future of regional groups. Council had a full discussion and proposals are now being drafted. On day two, the group enjoyed a site visit to the Duchy Estate outside Hereford.

You can find out more about who sits on our Council here.

PESC accredits new graduate schemes

Our Professional & Educational Standards Committee recently met to approve the accreditation of graduate schemes offered by Savills UK, Scottish Woodlands, and Tilhill. Successful completion of the respective graduate schemes now offers individuals two additional Professional Membership Entry (PME) qualifying points, meaning graduates without an honours degree in forestry or arboriculture may be able to present for PME two years earlier than before (subject to eligibility). Find out more here.

CPD Survey 2023

We recently launched our CPD survey. As a professional body we take pride in delivering a wide range of high-quality events and CPD opportunities for our members. We need your input to help the Institute, your Regional Groups and Special Interest Groups plan the next two years’ delivery. This survey is anonymous, which we hope will allow members to provide candid feedback, and is open until the end of August. Please check your inbox for a link to respond.


We are undertaking a consultation to determine how we can best serve the needs of public sector bodies working in arboriculture and forestry, at both employee and organisational levels. Following the consultation’s close, feedback will be analysed by a dedicated focus group and our Council so we can set out a plan of action to address issues raised. For the consultation to be effective and provide clear routes forward, it is important that we receive feedback from as many public sector tree professionals as possible whether they are members of the Institute or not. We strongly encourage members to share this consultation with all relevant colleagues.

Public Sector Survey


As a member of the Environmental Policy Forum (EPF), we recently signed their joint industry response to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities’ consultation into Environmental Outcomes reporting. The response outlined four key concerns relating to how a new approach to environmental reporting can be delivered in practice:

  1. Missing details
  2. Absence of research and evidence to support claims.
  3. Consultation with the experts
  4. Assurance of guidance and resource to support effective delivery of
    o Guidance and monitoring
    o Resource
    o Investment in skills.


The response was signed by eight members of the EPF: British Ecological Society, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, CIWM, Institution of Environmental Sciences, Institute of Fisheries Management and Society for the Environment.

Shona Smyth MICFor invited to present at Wildfire in Wales Conference

On 13 June, the Institute’s Senior Technical Officer, Shona Smyth MICFor, attended the Wildfire in Wales 2023 Conference, part of the collaborative Healthy Hillsides Project, as a keynote speaker. Shona presented on encouraging resilience into plantation forests which included building wildfire into forest planning, with a focus on the use of firebreaks, water management, maintenance, and species choice. Find out more.

Forestry University Summit

Lastly, the Institute’s Senior Education and Outreach Officer, Dr Rob Hawkins, organised a collaborative event that invited representatives from UK-wide universities to discuss best practice, network, and most importantly, workshop ideas on how we can work together to solve issues the sector currently faces. Hosted by colleagues from BIFor at the University of Birmingham, we were also joined by key members of the Forestry Commission who funded two facilitators to help delegates workshop, and who will create a report from which a plan of action and future work will be derived.

ICF Representation

Stuart Wilkie FICFor, our representative on the UKWAS steering group, provided an update regarding the approval of UKWAS 5:

“FSC’s International Performance and Standards Unit (PSU) have advised FSC UK that their priority is to address those standards which are transferring from Version 4 of the FSC Principles and Criteria to Version 5. They are working on increasing the capacity within the team, but this will only have an impact at the earliest in Q3, 2023. They have indicated that the PSU review of the UK standard will begin in October 2023. It is therefore unlikely that UKWAS 5 will be approved this year. April 2024 seems the likely earliest date.

FSC have published an advice note on conversion of natural forests to open ground or plantation. UK productive forests are predominantly plantations, but it seems likely that UKWAS 5 will need to be adapted to comply with the FSC requirements regarding natural forests.”

The England Woodland Biodiversity Group (EWBG) hosted a two-day site visit to Wild Ennerdale and RSPB Haweswater on 6 and 7 June which was attended by our representative Sonia Lorenzo-Martin MICFor. Hosted by Forestry England, the National Trust and RSPB, the event provided an opportunity to compare two of England’s most notable and exciting landscape-scale nature recovery projects, and there were many stimulating discussion during the site visits.

Special Interest Groups

On 15 June, Keith Sacre MICFor, Urban Forestry Director at Barcham Trees, presented at the recent Trees and Design Action Group seminar on when to use, when not to use and the long-term effectiveness of root barriers. The seminar that focussed on trees and the underground, also discussed mapping development and opportunities, as well as Defra’s report on Trees Outside Woodland Programme that is due to be published. The seminar aimed to collate guidance on trees and utilities and understand the conflicts with emerging solutions based on research.

Sector news, guidance and reports

  • Wales launches National Forest Status Scheme – read
  • Future Tree Trust publish annual report – read
  • Forestry Commission publish Key Performance Indicators Report for 2022-23 – read
  • 57% of Forestry England’s Active Forests Programme were women – read
  • New report shows natural capital in Scotland holds steady – read
  • US wood pellet plant violated air pollution limits – read
  • New woodland to be planted for research to secure future of broadleaved tree species – read
  • Calls for ash dieback support from Irish government – read
  • Environment Secretary announces Unleashing Rural Opportunity policy paper – read
  • French lawmakers vote to ban smoking in all forests and woods during wildfire season – read
  • New Biosecure Procurement Requirement pilot scheme – read
  •  Urban Tree Challenge Fund closes for applications on 30 June – read
  • Scotland publishes a review on skills – read
  • Proposed changes to Scotland’s school learning system to fuel economic transformation – read
  • Share your views on ten year plan for Merkland Forest – read
  • Wales set out plan to tackle the nature, climate and pollution emergencies – read
  • Scottish Environment Secretary to hold forestry summit this summer – read

Latest news