ICF and CIEEM position paper – Management of Existing UK Woodlands: An Opportunity for Green Prosperity (Aug 2023)

The Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF) and the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) are calling on governments and agencies across the UK to bring about an urgent step change in the sustainable management of existing woodlands. Our organisations jointly represent the full breadth and depth of professional expertise in forestry, ecology and environmental management.

For decades there has been failure of policy to increase the proportion of woodland under active management. Woodland creation has been the too-narrow focus of policy in recent years, with existing woodlands remaining a huge, missed opportunity. We need all types of woodland, recognising that some are better for biodiversity, some for producing essential timber and wood products, and others for recreation and wellbeing.

All the benefits that woodlands provide – for biodiversity, recreation, timber, flood alleviation, health and wellbeing, soil health, carbon sequestration, cooling cities, resilience to climate change, reducing air pollution, shelter for livestock, food production – are delivered much more effectively when the woodland is appropriately managed.

However, many of those purposes do not have any funding associated. Ownership of woodlands is fragmented, and landowners do not have the knowledge, incentive, or confidence to understand and act on the natural capital value of their woodlands. We need urgently to prioritise helping private landowners to bring more existing woodlands into sustainable management by increasing the pace, breadth and scale of ambition in policy, legislation and financial incentives.

ICF and CIEEM represent the breadth and depth of professional expertise in forestry, ecology and environmental management. We urge governments and partners to commit to urgent action and to working with us to enable our woodlands to deliver for nature and people.

With thanks to CIEEM members Penny Anderson, Keith Kirby, Jerry Langford and Graham Morgan for their input into the paper.