The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department responsible for the management of publicly owned forests and the regulation of both public and private forestry in England. It was formerly also responsible for Forestry in Wales and Scotland, however on 1 April 2013 Forestry Commission Wales merged with other agencies to become Natural Resources Wales, whilst two new bodies (Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Forestry) were established in Scotland on 1 April 2019.
|Type||Non-ministerial government department|
|Jurisdiction||England (1919-present) |
|Annual budget||£50.8 million (2009-2010)|
The Forestry Commission was set up in 1919 to expand Britain's forests and woodland after depletion during the First World War. To do this, the commission bought large amounts of agricultural land; eventually becoming the largest land owner in Britain. Today, the Forestry Commission is divided into three divisions: Forestry England, Forestry Commission and Forest Research. Over time the purpose of the Commission broadened to include many other activities beyond timber production. One major activity is scientific research, some of which is carried out in research forests across Britain. Recreation is also important, with several outdoor activities being actively promoted. Protecting and improving biodiversity across England's forests are also part of the Forestry Commission's remit.
The Commission received criticism for its reliance on conifers, particularly the uniform appearance of conifer forests and concerns over a lack of biodiversity. Protests from the general public and conservation groups accompanied attempts to privatise the organisation in 1993 and 2010.