Forestry & trees

Commercial forestry is a significant land use in Northern England, with significant forests, such as Kielder and Harewood, providing produce for the processing industry.

Elsewhere, our landscapes are heavily influenced by farm and estate woodland, parkland and field boundary trees. The latter have been greatly reduced over recent years due to Dutch Elm, and now the Ash are under threat from Chalara Fraxinia.

Forestry regulation is largely governed by the Forestry Act 1967. One of the most common areas of contention is when one requires a felling licence to undertake tree felling, as administered by the Forestry Commission. A felling licence will normally contain a replanting provision. Not long ago, this could attract grant aid, but not so now although grant aid is available for new woodland planting.

The safety aspects of individual trees and woodland should always be considered by owners. This is particularly relevant alongside roads or other public rights of way, but also where a park, garden or woodland is open to the public. Accidents do happen. Some trees can shed limbs, or even fall, with no prior warning with tragic consequences. However, some accidents can be avoided with the correct tree management.

Recent case law has highlighted the need for owners to instigate an effective inspection regime for trees which may endanger the public. This must include a plan of action to ensure the trees are safe as far as is reasonable.

If you would like any further information or to discuss any rural related matter, please contact Tom Wills, head of the agriculture & estates department at Sintons.