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Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to promote sustainable and effective management of private owners' woodland; and if he will make a statement. (105243)

In 2002 the Forestry Commission published its response to the recommendations of the Sustaining England's Woodlands Review Steering Group. This group had been asked to review the support for sustainable management of existing woodlands and forests in accordance with the priorities of the Forestry Strategy for England and taking into account the UK Forestry Standard. The Forestry Commission agreed to implement 67 actions and in April 2006 they published a progress report. I have arranged for a copy of the progress report to be placed in the Library. It is also available on the Forestry Commission's website at:

Underpinning our support for sustainable management and the delivery of public benefits are the six elements of the Forestry Commission's English Woodland Grant Scheme. These are:

Woodland Creation Grant to support the creation of properly designed and well located new woodlands.

Woodland Assessment Grant to support the gathering of specific information to improve management decisions.

Woodland Management Planning Grant to support the preparation of plans that meet the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.

Woodland Management Grant to support the basic management activities that underpin woodland sustainability.

Woodland Regeneration Grant to support desirable changes in the delivery of public benefits from woodland after felling.

Woodland Improvement Grant to create and sustain an increase in the quality of woodlands.

In addition Defra's Higher Level Stewardship offers certain grant options for the maintenance and improvement of smaller scale farm woodland and larger woodlands that are normally grazed as part of a farming system.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the cost of an acre of woodland in each year since 1988; and if he will make a statement. (105244)

Comprehensive statistics on woodland prices are not available. Unlike agricultural land price statistics, the value of woodland incorporates the changing value of the timber growing stock, as well as the underlying land value and specific factors that attract buyers. Since 1993 the Forestry Commission's annual reports and accounts have shown a total value for the Public Forest Estate, which has been independently valued every five years since then. This is best indication we have of the changing cost of woodland over time. The open market values and the area of forest are shown in the following table.




GB area (thousand hectares)




Value (£ million)




Unit value (£ per hectare)





One hectare equals 2.471 acres