Tree Felling: Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure the safety of wildlife when trees are being felled.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Government Whip

The Forestry Commission is responsible for the regulation of tree felling in England and woodland managers must apply for a felling license from the Commission to fell trees, unless an exemption applies. For example, a tree which poses a danger life or property can be felled without a license.

Any tree felling must comply with regulations and legislation protecting wildlife species and habitats, including the European protected species (EPS) listed in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

In England, all wild birds, their eggs and their nests are protected, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to kill, injure or take wild birds or to take or damage their eggs and nests. There are provisions within the 1981 Act that permit derogation from these protections for specific reasons for example for the purposes of preserving public health or public or air safety.

The Forestry Commission works with Natural England, the statutory body for protected species, to provide good practice guidance on how to minimise impacts on protected wildlife and circumstances where a licence may be required. When submitting an application, landowners are required to evidence how they propose to manage the impact of felling on wildlife, including sites of special scientific interest (SSSI). It is an offence to carry out an activity that has an impact on a protected species without a wildlife management license.

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