Forestry in England

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Woodland at Plantlife's Ranscombe Farm Reserve, Kent

What's the problem?

England today has more woodland than 20 years ago. It is not a rare and restricted habitat but a widespread and familiar part of the landscape. We have 5 times more ancient woodland than limestone grassland, 27 times more than lowland meadow, and a staggering 229 times more ancient woodland than upland hay meadow. The Independent Panel on Forestry report recommends an increase of 5% of England’s woodland cover taking it from 10% to 15% over the next 50 years. Despite this, characteristic woodland birds and butterflies continue to decline and woodland plants are vanishing at a greater rate than meadow species.

Why is this happening?

The simple answer is that too many of our woods are neglected, mismanaged or under-managed. This is the major threat to their plant life and to the other wildlife that depends upon a rich woodland flora. Overgrazing by a soaring deer population and nutrient enrichment from atmospheric pollution compound the problem. More woodland is a well-intentioned aim but what we really need is better woodland.

What can be done?

If our native woodland – much of it of international importance – is to be protected and enjoyed by future generations, then private and public woodland owners need to take a more informed and more active approach to woodland management. It matters little who owns dull woodlands devoid of natural beauty and nor do we need more of them. Plantlife’s vision is for a woodland estate where the economic incentives exist for private woodland owners to manage their woods more actively, and where those woodlands in public ownership are managed to the highest standard to deliver the public benefits of beautiful landscapes rich in wildlife.


Download the report:

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Forestry Recommissioned

Plantlife’s report, revealing that a lack of management has led to darker woods where plants cannot flourish and, as they have declined, so has the wildlife that depends on them.

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