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Forestry Commission: Britain’s forest area hits almost 3m hectares


The Forestry Commission has published new maps and statistics showing that Great Britain has about two and a half times more forest and woodland than it had 100 years ago.

They show that Britain has almost 3 million hectares (7.5 million acres) of forest and woodland, representing 13 per cent of the total land area, and equivalent to almost 4 million football pitches. It is estimated that a century ago woodland cover was between only 4 and 6 per cent.

The new reports and maps form part of the National Forest Inventory (NFI), and show that, at 31 March 2011:

  • Great Britain had 2,979,354 hectares of woodland;
  • England had 1,292,372ha (10 per cent of the land area);
  • Scotland had 1,383,410ha (18 per cent);
  • Wales had 303,572ha (15 per cent);
  • 42 per cent of woodland comprised mostly conifer species, 37 per cent mostly broadleaved species, and the remaining 21 per cent comprised mostly mixed conifers and broadleaves; and
  • the Forestry Commission managed 807,288ha, or 27 per cent, of Britain’s woodland, with other owners managing the remaining 2,172,066 hectares, or 73 per cent. (See Note 2 below.)

Welcoming the reports, Wilma Harper, Director of Corporate and Forestry Support at the Forestry Commission, said,

“Public expectations of Britain’s woods forests have never been greater. Forest managers deliver not just sustainably grown timber and places to walk and enjoy nature, but also a wide range of benefits including clean air and water, and food and homes for our wildlife.

“Managing forests to provide these benefits is a complex business which needs precise and up-to-date information. The National Forest Inventory will be the most accurate inventory of our forest resources we have ever produced, and provides a great baseline to work from as we move forward.”

Dougal Driver, the chief executive of Grown in Britain, an initiative to connect more people with woods and trees and promote greater use of home-grown British timber and forest products, added,

“It’s fantastic to have confirmation that our woodland resource continues to expand, and we must now take up the challenge of maintaining this growth for future generations. The data is impressive, and confirms that the resource is there to meet the growing demand for British timber.

“With robust information like this we can plan with confidence to grow the market for sustainably produced, renewable and environmentally friendly products from our woods and forests.”

The woodland area information comprises separate reports for Britain, England, Scotland and Wales. The England and Scotland reports include regional breakdowns. They, and other NFI products, can be downloaded free from the NFI area of the Forestry Commission website at