Friday, 28 February 2014

Britain's forest area close to 3 million 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% of the land area);
  • Scotland had 1,383,410ha (18%);
  • Wales had 303,572ha (15%);
  • 42% of woodland comprised mostly conifer species
  • 37% mostly broadleaved species
  • remaining 21% comprised mostly mixed conifers and broadleaves; and
  • the Forestry Commission managed 807,288ha, or 27%, of Britain's woodland, with other owners managing the remaining 2,172,066 hectares, or 73%
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.

Britain's woodland cover had declined to an estimated 4-6% by the beginning of the 20th century after thousands of years of forest removal for fuel, timber, industry, farming and settlements. 

It has been expanding since the 1920s as successive governments have encouraged new forest planting. Reforestation programmes initially focused on re-establishing a strategic reserve of home-grown timber. However, policy has evolved to focus on creating a multi-purpose woodland resource also encompassing environmental protection (including climate change mitigation and adaptation), wildlife conservation, public recreation and health, and community development.

The NFI is based on measurement of all rural and urban woodland areas of 0.5ha or greater in size. Its predecessor, the National Inventory of Woodland & Trees (NIWT), compiled in the late 1990s, measured only the total area of woodlands of 2ha or greater, and estimated the total area of rural woodlands smaller than 2ha, based on a sample.

The current NFI is being compiled over the five years 2009 to 2014 from satellite imagery, aerial photography and field surveys; Forestry Commission, NRW and owners' records; and data analysis. 

The full suite of NFI outputs will include reports on woodland area, health and condition; timber, carbon, biomass and species content; various woodland uses and facilities; and forecasts of how some of these aspects could change over the coming decades under different scenarios.

It enables the Forestry Commission, Natural Resources Wales and other environmental, land and infrastructure authorities to track changes over time - crucially, in the health and condition of trees, woods and forests - and provides essential, up-to-date information on which to base advice, guidance, planning and management decisions.

Major update to the myForest service

The Sylva Foundation has announced two major updates to the myForest service.

For those who are unfamiliar with the service myForest is a free online tool for woodland owners, forestry businesses and wood users. The tools enable users to easily set-up a sustainable woodland management plan and also help with the marketing of home-grown forest products.

The recent updates to myForest include an enhanced management planning template that links with Forestry Commission England.  The mapping tool within myForest have also been improved and is now fully functional online GIS.

New Management Planning template

The myForest management plan template has been update to reflect the recent changes implemented by Forestry Commission England (FCE).  myForest  now enables the creation of management plans as part of the Woodland Planning Grant.  

These changes incorporate a number of benefits:

  • more user-friendly template
  • the template that allows the creation of a management plan that is compliant with the UK Forestry Standard
  • provides the woodland owner with felling permissions for 10 years as part of the management plan.
  • compliance with new regulations including EU Timber Regulations.

New Mapping Composer

The updated mapping composer within myForest is a simple Geographical Information System (GIS).  It allows the user to add layers and labels to a map which can be printed off or saved on your computer, and saved as in pdf format.

The maps generated can be used to provide felling permissions as part of a management plan or to support an application for a standalone felling licence.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Forestry & Wood Fuel Update - April 2014 - Free Event

The Woodfuel Pathfinder will deliver its next event at Kingston Barn on the evening on April 1st.  Full details can be found below.

To register for the event please use this link.  

Alternatively please call the AONB Unit on 01303 815 171.

Monday, 3 February 2014

New grants for farming, forestry and low carbon businesses

We are pleased to see the arrival of two new grant schemes that are available to the forestry sector in Kent.

The FFIS and Low Carbon Plus grants can support existing businesses with machinery and other capital and business development costs.

It is possible that there is some overlap in these grants so applicant may need to decide which is best for their business.  As far as we can tell there is no restriction on applying to both.

The FFIS is a £10M 'pot' available in England.  The Low Carbon Plus pot is £1M and available to Kent-based businesses only.


First up is the re-opening of the FFIS (Farming and Forestry Improvement  Scheme).  Round 3 of this scheme will provide grants of up to £35,000.  The grant rate in lowland areas is 40%.  Previous beneficiaries of FFIS can re-apply.

Eligible items for the forestry sector include timber processors, harvesters and tractor-mounted forestry grabs.  Deadline for applications is April 4th.  This scheme is funded by RDPE (Pillar 2 if the CAP).

Low Carbon Plus

The next grant is an entirely new grant that is being delivered by Kent County Council's Low Carbon Business Network.

The Low Carbon Plus scheme will provide £1M worth of grants to existing businesses that are involved in 'low carbon' goods and services.

Grants of up to £20,000 may be used for: 
  • Development finance: funding required to expand the business (for example, marketing costs)
  • Plant and machinery: costs of re-tooling and installation of machinery  and hardware and training required to operate it
  • Intangible assets: including costs of purchasing patents, IT, software and licences
  • Consultancy costs (e.g. marketing, business planning)
Applicants must be based in Kent. The grant rate is 50%.

The scheme is currently at the pre-launch stage.  Businesses are invited to complete an expression of interested which can be found here.  This scheme is funded by the EU-ERDF.