British Woodlands 2012 Survey

A national survey –  British Woodlands 2012  – has been launched, asking the views of woodland owners and managers about the challenges and opportunities facing British woodland.

Tree feller – PAWS restoration

The survey builds on work that has been carried out by Cambridge University’s Department of Land Economy on five occasions over the last 50 years. It has been developed through a collaboration of organisations and people with a real interest in British forestry and woodland, including the Woodland Trust.

This is a critical time for British forestry, with the survey coming hot on the heels of the launch in England of the Independent Panel on Forestry’s Final Report to Government.  The aim of the survey is to help inform that debate with responses from as wide a cross-section of woodland owners and managers as possible.

It is clear that both the public forest estate and private woods provide many benefits to society as a whole. One of the areas the survey is trying to explore is the issue of public benefits of privately-owned woods. In those circumstances where private owners are unable or unwilling to pursue some of the private goals from their woods, important public benefits can be lost – for instance where active management might benefit wildlife, or where woodland creation might help improve water quality or alleviate flooding.

The survey aims to gauge the current level of sustainable forest management in privately-owned woods and assess the amount of land available for woodland creation.

It will also look at the value of public benefit that is delivered by private woodland and understand why owners are reluctant to take up grants encouraging sustainable management and woodland creation. It is hoped the survey will contribute to understanding the barriers to woodland management that could provide improving value to society.

Who should take the Survey?

The survey needs the participation of as wide a range of people as possible involved in the upkeep of woods – from councils, charities, companies, communities as well as individual owners. The results will provide a wealth of information that will help inform policy makers of how we can best support the woodland and forestry community.

Ride cutting – Brede High Woods

The British Woodlands 2012 survey takes about 20-30 minutes to complete – the more people from all sorts of woodland owners who complete the survey, the better.  All data will be treated with the utmost confidentiality, with results presented in an amalgamated version only. Gill Petrokofysky the Project Coordinator for the British Woodland Survey, is happy to answer any queries regarding the survey and how the data will be used. Please email

Anyone taking part in the survey will be invited to a woodland conference at Oxford University to be held in December 2012, at which the results of the survey will be discussed.  With British woodland at last in the political spotlight, this is great time to make your views part of the national debate.

The deadline for completed surveys is the 24th August at 17:00.

Mike Townsend, Communications and Evidence Adviser

About Kay Haw

Assistant Conservation Adviser, Woodland Trust. Nature is my passion, especially woods and trees which are just amazing elements of life. One day (soon) I hope we humans learn to work in harmony with Mother Earth.
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5 Responses to British Woodlands 2012 Survey

  1. I completed the 2012 survey then received a ‘404’ error when submitting it, with no way of trying again — so I’ve no idea whether you received it.

  2. On the issue of getting the balance right, it should be illustrated that private woodland is very important for some of our rare bird species in the UK. Like most wildlife, they require a quiet sanctuary where they can breed, which in turn is vital for the species survival. Disturbance in its many guises can be a killer of biodiversity as much as anything else and it is high time us humans realised it.


    Tony Powell

    • Kay Haw says:

      Thanks for your comment. You’re right, a lack of disturbance, particularly at critical times of year, can be important for wildlife. That’s why it is important to identify and manage woodland in a way which provides access near to where people live, which is the basis of our ‘Woods for People’ mapping. Most woodland is likely to remain closed to free public access, except along linear public footpath routes. It is also why woodland creation, to expand remaining fragments of ancient woodland is important – extending the opportunities for habitat expansion. Whilst new woodland is not analogous to ancient woodland, it can provide opportunities for some species, and importantly helps to buffer ancient woodland from outside disturbance and pollution.

      • Thanks for answering my vision of things with such an in depth reply.

        I am slightly straying from the main topic here, so forgive me. Most decisions concerning our ecosystems, especially forests and tree planting must be long-term objectives, stretching well beyond our own lifetimes. Most TV nature programs show us this (albeit, obviously not in real time) and you, as conservationists understand these principles too. What we need, are the public, politicians and lawmakers to accept these conclusions and think longer term on every plan they introduce.

        About the idea of linking wildlife corridors (I think that is what you were referring to), there is good progress being made on that too. My earlier point of lessening the disturbance for our critters will probably only come about through educating the good folk who use these very habitats. The balancing of peaceful sanctuary and human induced noise pollution will always be very difficult to achieve. Being a fond sound recordist, I am especially, tuned into this issue as indeed, silence is at times, golden.



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