Woods in England
England was once largely covered with woodland, but over many centuries this was cleared and used to meet the needs of an increasing population. England's woodland cover was only 15 per cent of its land area as long as 1,000 years ago,. By the beginning of the 1900's woodland cover had reached a low point of 5 per cent.
In recent years woodland cover has increased but remains low at just 8 per cent. Today, woodlands and forests cover just over 1 million hectares of England and contain around 2 billion trees, see the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees.
Around three-quarters of England's woodlands and forests are privately owned and about one-quarter are public forests managed by the Forestry Commission which is the main Government Department concerned with forestry matters.
In 1998 the Government published 'A New Focus for England's Woodlands' setting out the Government's strategic priorities and programmes for forestry in England. The Strategy is based on four key areas:
Forestry for Rural Development
Forestry for the Environment and Conservation
Forestry for Recreation, Access and Tourism
Forestry for Economic Regeneration
Forestry Commission support for existing woodlands has undergone a more recent review. 'Sustaining England's Woodlands' is the response to this review and sets out how the Forestry Commission can more effectively support the sustainable management of woodland in England.
To ensure that woodlands are an integral part of sustainable development of the South East region, a Forestry & Woodland Framework was launched in 2004 to:
Show how woodlands are currently contributing to the people,environment and economy of the region
Show what the region needs to do to ensure that woodlands have a secure future, and continue to contribute to the region into the future.