Tree Felling

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered at on 3 July 2019.

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Photo of Peter Dowd Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure the accuracy of the data in relation to tree (a) felling and (b) restocking and the associated granting of felling licences.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), The Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

The Forestry Commission regulates felling of trees in England. Felling licences are a requirement for felling, unless an exemption applies.

The Forestry Commission provides the best available information on the granting of felling licences, illegal felling, and publicly funded restocking. These Official Statistics are produced to meet the standards of the Code of Practice for Statistics. Last year, the Forestry Commission introduced a new felling licence online service, which will enable further improvements to the collection and reporting of data on licencing.

There is no obligation for a landowner to fell their trees once a licence has been granted, which can be valid for up to 10 years, so data on actual felling is not recorded and there are no plans to do so. However, loss of woodland can be detected from the analysis of satellite earth observation data, and the Forestry Commission already provides statistics on the net loss of woodland area in England.

This takes account of the loss of woodland to open habitat creation and development. The Forestry Commission is also exploring the potential to further develop techniques to enhance the detection of tree felling and restocking.

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