Levels of UK woodland are improving

The Forestry Commission reports that the amount of land given over to woodland and forest is now back to levels it had reached in the Middle Ages, after centuries of clearances.

The total area devoted to woodland in the UK is now about 3.19 million hectares (around 7.7 million acres) – that’s 13 per cent of the total land area.

In England, the area covered is lower at about 10 per cent- Scotland leads the way with 19 per cent.

Clearances for agriculture, and because of population growth, led to huge reductions during the Bronze Age and the Roamn period, and (although there were fluctuations) this did not recover over most of our history.

The Forestry Commission was formed following the First World War which had seen serious depletion of wood reserves. It created state-owned forests including Kielder Forest in Northumberland, which became the largest man-made forest in England.

The Second Wotld War saw the country use over a third of its timber supplies, and the Commission has been working since to restore levels, and we are now back pretty much to peak levels for 3,000-4,000 years.

The urgency of the Climate Change crisis means we are now seeing a real drive on the part of governments, councils, and individuals to plant trees and shrubs and hedgerows wherever opportunity arises. A tree may take decadees to mature to full size, but every little bit helps, and the sooner we plant them, the sooner they’ll get to full size.

Bracken, Pteridium aquilinum, a member of the fern family growing in woodland as a ground cover on the forest floor