Formed in 1919, The Forestry Commission is a government department which is responsible for the protection, preservation, and creation of the forestry in England and Scotland. Split into two departments, for the North and the South respectively, the Welsh Commission recently became part of Natural Resources Wales.
Set up after the First World War, the Forestry Commission was originally tasked with expanding upon depleted British forestry as a result of the war. As such they sought out a vast amount of ex-agricultural land, which was no longer in use. This meant that the Commission then became the largest landowner in the whole of Great Britain.
Over the last century the commission has moved on from just repopulating British forests and are now responsible for many facets of timber production:
The Commission plant many millions of trees, and sustainably harvest around four million tonnes from England and Scotland, each year. Totalling more than one-third of domestic total production, this means that we are less dependent upon imported woods and goes some way to lowering our carbon footprint by creating low-carbon materials for the British Industry.
Though it may not seem like it, we are close to losing many British species of a tree like the Horse Chestnut. With a lot of wood being imported into the UK that carries pests and disease, we are facing an epidemic of destruction throughout our forests, further exacerbated by climate change which has improved conditions for disease propagation. The Commission is rigorous in its approach to stopping this happen and inspects all imported woods at the ports in order to minimise this threat. They also work to deal with any outbreaks by containing the spread of disease through licensed tree felling.
With areas such as Kilmun and Westonbirt perennially protected from logging, The Commission ensures that Britain’s great forests will remain great for years to come. However, they don’t only protect the country’s trees from destruction, but also the wildlife and ecosystems which thrive in the forests. One major impact we’ve seen as a result of industrial growth and increased timber demand is the rapid decline of native species such as the red squirrel and the dormouse, and the Forestry Commission are making moves to protect and nurture such creatures.
A mainstay of British culture, what with our beaches just being too cold for most of the year, many people take time to visit our greatest forests. As such the Commission make themselves responsible for the facilitation of our jaunts into the woods, creating and up-keeping trails, grounds, cycle routes and more. According to the Forestry Commission’s site, this contributes £2 billion yearly to the economy in rural areas, which is not exactly loose change!
One of our favourite organisations, we work strictly within the Commission’s guidelines and hope to emulate their ethics within our company’s practises.
Image by mhillier