Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Policy Roundup – November 2023

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

Institute news

Woodland Creation Summit

In June 2023, a delivery action plan was announced aimed at ramping up tree planting levels. This included a £1 million investment by Scottish Forestry to provide comprehensive training for its staff to speed up the woodland creation application process. Next month, invited industry leaders from the forestry and land management sectors will meet in Perthshire to agree additional actions to boost the creation of new woodlands in Scotland. The Woodland Creation Summit, organised by Scottish Forestry and facilitated by the Institute, will be chaired by Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon and held on Tuesday 12 December at the Battleby Conference Centre. Find out more.

Launch of the UK Forest Market Report

This month also featured the publication of the annually anticipated The UK Forest Market Report. Executive Director, Louise Simpson and Member Services Director, Dr Stuart Glen, attended the launch in London and Edinburgh on the 21 and 22 November, where they heard from Jon Lambert from Goldcrest Land & Forestry Group and Xander Mahony from Tilhill as they delivered the headlines. Headlines included commercial forestry values falling for the first time in almost a decade, with a 10%-20% drop in the past year, with rising interest rates softening market activity across the board in both afforestation and commercial and amenity woodlands. Read The UK Forest Market Report 2023.

UK Forests Horizon Scan

The UK Forests Horizon Scan was published in the Institute’s Scientific journal, Forestry this month. The article titled ‘A horizon scan of issues affecting UK forest management within 50 years‘ hit the headlines warning of the multiple emerging threats to woodlands, including tree disease and extreme weather. Funded by Forestry England, the study was led by Chartered Forester Dr Eleanor Tew MICFor, and the article was co-authored by over 40 experts from across the sector, including the Institute’s Executive Director, Louise Simpson. Find out more.

Defra Changes Following Cabinet Reshuffle

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has appointed former health secretary Steve Barclay as the new Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). This comes after former Defra Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, who was appointed in October 2022 stood down as part of a government cabinet reshuffle.

A qualified solicitor, Steve Barclay was elected as a Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire in May 2010 following a career in financial services. He has had several governmental roles including Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (2018-2020), Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (2021-2022) and  Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (2022-2023).

Trudy Harrison has also left her post as Minister for Natural Environment and Land Use which included forestry, tree planting, land use and climate change adaptation. The remit of Defra’s Rebecca Pow, Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience, now includes forestry. Pow was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Defra in October 2022 and has represented the constituency Taunton Deane in Somerset since 2015. In addition, Robbie Moore, Conservative MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire since December 2019, was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State but his responsibilities have not yet been confirmed.

Skills and Recruitment in Forestry Report

The Institute also continues to contribute wholeheartedly to develop partnerships and work collaboratively to promote our voice. Woodknowledge Wales are producing a report on Skills and Recruitment in Forestry, due to be published later this year, with actions being implemented in early 2024. Our Senior Technical Officer, Shona Smyth MICFor, and Senior Education and Outreach Officer, Dr Rob Hawkins, have contributed to the development of the report. We are also continuing to feed into the National Wood Strategy for England, due to be officially launched on the 7 December at Confor’s UK Policy Conference.

National Tree Officers Conference

Tree officers from around the UK came together for the annual National Tree Officers’ Conference (NTOC) on 7 November. We worked in partnership with the Association of Tree Officers (ATO), the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) and the Municipal Tree Officers’ Association (MTOA) to deliver the event, which covers a wide range of topics showcasing the latest research, best practice and innovation in several areas of local authority tree, woodland and planning work. Scientists, academic researchers and legal professionals joined tree officers as presenters to provide insights and updates in their respective fields.

Green Job Delivery Group’s Nature Roundtable

On 8 November, Jo Fox-Evans, Head of Policy and Partnerships, represented the Institute at the Green Job Delivery Group’s Nature Roundtable. This meeting, organised by the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, was to work towards the government’s Net Zero and Nature Workforce Action Plan, which it has committed to delivering in 2024. The forestry sector’s apprenticeship programmes were highlighted by IfATE as a shining example of how to approach apprenticeship development. Next steps are to further develop the action plan with key milestones and defined outputs.


We are currently drafting responses to two consultations: Tackling the Nature Emergency, Scottish Forestry (closes 14 December) and Net Zero Sector Skills, Welsh Government (closes 31 December). These are due to be reviewed by Council on 7 December. We were also invited to comment on the review of Section 115 Environment Act 2021 Duty to Consult on the Felling of Street Trees. You can read our response here.

Shona Smyth MICFor has also been collating with the Welsh Government and other industry bodies on the implementation of the changes to the Forestry Act 1967 in Wales. View updates for the new guidance.


ICF Representatives Roundtable

Our representatives came together for their first roundtable meeting this month. This was a great opportunity for the group to catch up and network, as well as provide constructive feedback on the representative role. Your representatives are eager to hear your thoughts and feedback on the various projects that they are working on within the prospective groups. You can find out more about the groups we are represented on here, or contact Shona Smyth MICFor.

Scottish Tree Health Advisory Group

Ben Quarcoo MICFor, our representative on the Scottish Tree Health Advisory Group, provided an update on the reported success of Scottish Forestry’s surveillance programme. New and improved traps have been used for the first time and over the year tree health experts have had over 6,500 individual finds. Over 40 different species were trapped including, for the first time in Scotland, a single Ips typographus beetle. Scottish Forestry’s results will be combined across the UK to give a big picture of where pests and diseases are present and how we are controlling their spread.


We will shortly be recruiting for new representatives for the following roles:

  • FISA Steering Group
  • UKWAS Steering Group – Environment Chamber

The Institute would like to thank Neill Scott MICFor and Sonia Lorenzo-Martin FICFor for their commitment to the role of ICF Representative.

Sector news, guidance and reports

bp commit £10 million for Urban Forestry Programme in Scotland
Future Woodlands Scotland

PEFC Chain of Custody and Trademarks standards will expire on 31 December 2023

New environmental principles duty in place

20-year woodland and climate study begins in the Yorkshire Dales

Funding rate tripled for bracken control in Scotland
Scottish Forestry

Members of the timber supply chain recognised for their work on sustainability, diversity, and the community
Timber Development UK

Significant funding improvements to the England Woodland Creation Offer and Countryside Stewardship schemes
Forestry Commission

House of Lords publish report on the development of the horticultural sector
House of Lords

Institute publishes highlights of 2023
Institute of Chartered Foresters

Interim Forest Market Review 2023 published
Strutt & Parker

Government provides annual update on UK Biodiversity indicators

Summary of responses and executive summary available for the Just Transition to Net Zero Wales consultation
Welsh Government

The Guardian reports on forest horizon scan study
The Guardian

Ukraine’s sustainable construction potential presented at InterBuildExpo

Journal article published on forestry and the circular economy
Bangor University

Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund reopens with £2.5 million available

UK’s drop in timber imports not worth celebrating
Forestry Journal

Draft biodiversity gain plan template and draft guidance released

Barbie and forestry? Bear with me…
The Institute of Chartered Foresters

CLA responds to the government’s Autumn Statement

Latest news