Select Committee on Agriculture Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (K 6)

  The Institute of Chartered Foresters welcomes the opportunity to comment to the Agriculture Committee on the role of the Forestry Commission. These comments follow.


  The role of the Forestry Commission is broad—Forest Enterprise is the largest single owner of woodland in Great Britain, Forest Research is the main source of research activity directly relating to forestry and trees in the UK and the Forestry Commission, through the delivery of grants, provides quality control of the management of the forest estate of Great Britain, in both private and state ownership. We believe that the Forestry Commission should be the key deliverer of sustainable forest management in Great Britain and that Forestry Commission staff directly engaged in forest management should be, aim to be, Chartered Foresters, thereby demonstrating the Forestry Commission's commitment to high professional standards, external quality assurance and transparent accountability to the wider public. There are currently 210 Institute members employed by the Forestry Commission.

  One of our main areas of concern with regard to the work of the Forestry Commission relates to funding and resourcing.

  Timber prices in real terms are at an all time low. This impacts on both the income of the Forestry Commission and also on the income of the private sector, who are involved in commercial forestry. This not only affects current returns but also investment in the maintenance of crops due to be harvested in the future. Reducing maintenance now affects the value of the crop to society as a whole, both now and in the longer term. Less well-maintained stands of trees are in general less biologically diverse, less visually attractive and produce lower grade timber, not only affecting what usage that timber can be put to, but the amount of value that can be added to the primary product. Short-term savings, therefore, can have a detrimental impact on the long-term economic wealth of the nation, in particular in rural areas.

  The low returns described above have meant that many skilled workers employed in forestry are moving out of the industry. This loss of experience will have a detrimental affect, especially when combined with predicted timber volumes coming on stream in the next 10 to 20 years, where a doubling of the volume for harvest is predicted.

  Forestry can assist government in achieving many of its aims connected with sustainability. Examples could include renewable energy and reaching carbon targets. If forestry is to play its full part in assisting Government and society in achieving its potential then the Institute believes that the Forestry Commission must be properly resourced during this difficult financial period to enable it to deliver sustainable forest management on its own estate and through proper incentives and support in the private sector.


  The Institute of Chartered Foresters is the professional body for foresters and arborists throughout the UK. It is regulated by its Royal Charter, Bylaws and Regulation, and is required to maintain and uphold a Code of Ethics and rules of Professional Conduct. In addition:

    —  The Institute sets and maintains the standards for the profession, regulates the standards of entry to the profession and offers examinations for professional qualifications.

    —  The Institute keeps under review the status of Chartered Foresters and the profession.

    —  The Institute safeguards the public interest in matters relating to forests, woodlands and trees.

    —  Institute members are employed across all sections of the forestry and arboriculture sectors of the industry and currently 210 members of Forestry Commission staff are Fellows, Ordinary Members and Associates of the Institute.

  We believe that forests, woodlands and trees must be sustainably managed to meet society's increasing demand for wood, for recreation, for amenity, for conservation and for economic development. With increasing pressure on the world's forest resources, it is more important than ever before that the nation's trees and forests are in good hands. Managing them is a responsible task, requiring a high standard of professional management—which is the job of the Chartered Forester. As part of our commitment to this, the institute requires that its members undertake Continuing Professional Development, thereby ensuring the highest and most up to date standards of technical and professional competence.

13 November 2000

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