News & Events

eNews March 2008

ConFor extends a warm welcome to new members:

Timothy Congdon, Glos
Kuni Ltd, Glos
Simon MacGillivray, Glasgow
Stuart MacKenzie, Aberdeenshire
Arran Woodlands, Strathclyde
Keith Fisher, Cumbria
James Sharp, E Yorks
Oakfields, Stockton
David Woodhouse, Dorset
Daniel C Upton Ltd, Dorset
Pathfinder Renewable Energy Ltd, Monmouthshire

EU support for forestry

The European Commission has adopted a 19-point plan to address 5 key challenges facing the forest-based industries: access to raw materials; impact of climate change policies; innovation and R&D; trade and co-operation with third countries; communication and information.

The Commission is proposing 19 actions in five different areas aimed at strengthening the competitive position of the forest-based industries in Europe, while integrating EU climate change objectives. These are summarise below.

1. Access to raw materials

Member States, industry and forest owners are encouraged to promote afforestation and reforestation and to pay attention to the different uses of biomass when developing the national action plans. Sustainable forest management should be further encouraged.

The development of markets and collection systems for recovered paper will be followed to further promote cost-efficient and good quality collection systems. To increase the recovery level for wood products, the Commission will launch a study identifying solutions.

2. Climate change policy and environmental legislation

The Commission will explore advantages and challenges of proposing to include carbon storage in harvested wood products. Competitiveness concerns in the context of further global and EU action on climate change will be addressed. For example, relevant sectors will be considered in the Commission assessment of the risk of carbon leakage of Energy Intensive Industries.

3. Innovation, research and technological development

Member States and industry should consider the Strategic Research Agenda in their research (RTD) programmes and make adequate provision for education and training. Within the EU 7th Framework Programme, methods for production of bio-fuels and bio-based chemicals from wood should be explored (as well as increased efficiency using new and recovered fibre and solid wood will be encouraged).

Furthermore the "cluster" concept linking innovation related activities will be used to improve competitive synergies in the forest value chain, especially for SMEs.

4. Trade and cooperation with third countries

The Commission will continue its efforts to establish and implement a market access strategy, ensuring access to raw materials internationally and supporting the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers. To this end a dialogue with interested third countries will be launched.

5. Communication and Information

Member States, regional authorities, academic and educational institutions will be invited to cooperate within multinational networks in order to examine and ensure the follow-up of long-term changes in the forest-based industries.

A press release and the document, Innovative and sustainable forest-based industries in the EU - A contribution to the EU's growth and jobs strategy, can be viewed at:

2020 energy target

The European Commission has published a suite of proposals intended to meet EU climate and energy objectives. These include a draft renewable energy directive, proposals for the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), Member State targets for greenhouse gas emissions, and a Commission Communication and draft directive on Carbon Capture and Storage. The government has launched a consultation on how the UK can play its role in meeting the EU target of 20% renewable energy by 2020.

The UK government has welcomed the European Commission's proposals and reiterated its commitment to meeting the targets both it and the EU has set while minimizing burdens on business and consumers. The challenge will be to demonstrate that climate change policies can be both affordable and consistent with maintaining economic growth.
The proposed directive on renewable energy sets a target for the EU of securing 20% of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The UK's contribution to this target (15% of all UK energy) is likely to be challenging given that in 2005 it was just 1.3%, lagging behind every Member State except Malta and Luxembourg.

Each EU government must submit a national action plan to Brussels by March 09 setting out how it intends to meet its share of the 2020 target. The plan will indicate the sectoral targets for heating and cooling (50% of all UK emissions come from this sector), for electricity generation, for industrial process power and for transport. The country percentages are not yet finally agreed, but they are most likely to become law in autumn ‘08. The UK government is currently consulting on it can be implement in a sensible and cost-effective way.  

Achievement of the target requires an enormous 10-fold increase in UK "renewables" performance within the next 12 years and a tripling of all the current agreed government short term targets and ambitions.

European protected species

Following up feedback from members across the sector, ConFor is exploring what action to take in response to the recent amendment to the Habitats Regulations relating to European Protected Species. Real concern has been expressed that the changes will threaten the active management of forest and woodland.

The issue

The EU seeks to protect species that are rare or declining across the EU through the Habitats Directive (though most of the woodland species identified are not rare in the UK). This Directive is implemented in the UK through the Habitats Regulations.

It is an offence, under these regulations, deliberately to kill or to disturb one of the protected species, or to destroy their eggs. It is also an offence to ‘damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place' used by them (such as a bat roost in a tree or a dormouse nest on the woodland floor).  When the regulations were introduced, they included a condition that catered for actions that were ‘an incidental result of a lawful operation...and could not reasonably have been avoided'. However, the European Court of Justice has ruled that the UK is in breach of the EU Directive and has required the UK to remove this exemption. Therefore, foresters are now more liable to prosecution, even if the damage to a breeding site or resting place was accidental.

The UK responded quickly to make the changes necessary to comply with the EU Habitats Directive, so there was no industry consultation and apparently no discussion about any possible UK derogation. 

Our concerns

The main issues are:

1.  Extra work and cost, which in some cases will stop small woodlands being managed:

  • in checking to see if EPS there (information is not easy to find and sometimes payment is required);
  • if EPS are there, then working around them in timing and space;
  • in monitoring and recording (to show that you have done everything as you should);
  • calling in an expert, for example, for advice on bats.

2.  Conflict:

  • with other laws, for example, health and safety of dangerous trees on roads;
  • with other conservation work, for example, to improve habitat generally;
  • with other objectives, for example, shooting, reducing ground damage;
  • sustainable forest management

3.  Fear of being made a criminal through ordinary work.

4.  We are already highly regulated.  Most woodlands will be affected.  It is not good law and may lead to less habitat/biodiversity and woodland management.  At the same time, FC and industry are looking for more woodlands to be managed and more wood to be produced.

Current action

ConFor has assisted Graham Taylor by circulating his letter and petition to members in England, which he is sending to the European parliament's petitions committee. 

In parallel we have sought to identify the best course of action, speaking to contacts and officials in the UK and in Brussels. Through ConFor's membership of the Confederation of European Forest Owners (CEPF) enquiries have been made in DG Environment (the responsible EU department) and meetings are currently being arranged to identify industry concerns and then to discuss these with DG environment staff.  

We have also liaised with the Forestry Commission and explored developments in Northern Ireland. FC England has said it ‘is committed to increasing the sustainable management of England's woodlands, not least for the biodiversity protected by the Habitats Regulations. It is working to ensure that the forestry sector is in a position to both conserve these key EPS and to minimise any adverse impacts on other aspects of woodland management.'

Further information

FC in England, Wales and Scotland has published guidance (all different) on amendments to the Habitat Regulations and what they mean for woodland managers.  This includes the main species likely to be affected by forestry, finding out if any of these may be present and gives information on areas not to be touched, time of year when work can be done, how etc and when to apply for a licence.

Further information:

Scottish climate change action plan

Forestry Commission Scotland's first draft climate change action plan is out for consultation until 06 June.  See  Members are urged to respond and to send comments to

The proposed main actions are:

Protecting and managing existing forests.  As the climate changes we may need to change the ways our forests are managed.  For example, some tree species may become unsuitable if our summers become drier or winters milder; even more care may be need to be taken to protect soils and the carbon they contain; and we will continue to need to explore the opportunities for lower impact ways of managing our woodlands.

Creating new woodlands.  As well as all its other benefits, woodland creation can contribute towards overall emissions reduction, through storing carbon or by using wood for construction materials or renewable energy.  The Scottish Forestry Strategy has an ambition to achieve 25% woodland cover in Scotland by the second half of this century, which would require around 10 000ha of woodland creation each year.  The action plan sets out a number of ways that can help make that happen, including support measures in the new Rural Development Contracts and increasing woodland creation on the national forest estate.  In addition, the action plan signals an intention to clarify the drivers for new woodland creation and to set these out in a woodland expansion strategy.

Managing our forests so that they can continue to adapt to our changing climate.  Creating and expanding forest habitat networks enables plants and animals to respond better to climatic changes.  Extra effort may be required to safeguard the most vulnerable woodlands and we need to continue to monitor and react appropriately to any changes in the number and severity of pests and diseases affecting our trees and forests.

Managing our forests so that they can help Scotland adapt to climate change.  The predicted increase in storms could have a significant impact on rivers and soils.  Well designed woodlands can help stabilise slopes, protect riverbanks from erosion and can also help to alleviate flood risks.

Promoting the use of sustainably produced wood for a renewable source of energy and construction materials.  Timber from sustainably managed forests is a wonderful, renewable material and its use can reduce the carbon footprint of buildings as well as being an extremely effective way of storing carbon. FCS has published a timber development programme that seeks to make more use of home-grown timber and is also helping develop the woodfuel supply chain.

Reducing the forestry sector's carbon footprint.  The sector is continuing to find ways of minimising ‘timber miles', by transferring transport to rail and sea and by encouraging the local use and processing of timber and woodfuel.

A report commissioned by FCS, Impacts of climate change on forestry in Scotland$FILE/fcrn101.pdf - highlights the role that Scotland's forests have to play in tackling climate change.  It outlines the steps that the forestry sector may need to take to lessen the impact of warmer, drier summers and milder, wetter, windier winters. Key proposals include a move to more diverse planting, introducing different varieties of trees and revising operational practices and training staff to meet a new range of challenges.

Legal helpline
There has been a change of arrangement for ConFor's members' legal hepline.  Atkinson Ritson is taking over provision of this service from Tunnard & Co.  Atkinson Ritson is based in Carlisle, with a specialist forestry interest.  One of the staff was a chartered forester, who re-trained in law. You can find out more about Atkinson Ritson at


Managing trees for public safety

Do you own trees?  Do you manage trees?  Then we need your help.
ConFor is a partner in the stakeholder conference, Managing trees for public safety - towards an industry statement, at The Royal Geographical Society Hyde Park, Kensington, London; 29 May 2008.


Top ten forest research questions

Gillian Petrokofsky is carrying out a research project at Oxford Univeristy on science-policy interactions and the evidence base for forestry decision-making in the UK. She is looking for volunteers to participate in an on-line survey to find the ‘Top Ten' policy-relevant research questions in forestry.

Events and other news

Bank of England Business Report

ConFor is consulted annually by the Bank of England in preparation of its business conditions report. Each month the BoE publishes a summary of monthly reports compiled by the Bank's Agents, following discussions with businesses. It provides a regular update on the state of business conditions, from firms across all sectors of the economy.


ConFor is delighted to have reciprocal weblinks with members and many other organisations.  Anyone with a website who would like to do this, but has not yet done so, please contact  For those who still have the Forestry & Timber Association weblink, please amend it as soon as possible to Thank you.

Fellowships at the World Forest Institute in Portland

International Fellowships are now available at the World Forest Institute
Portland, Oregon, USA.



10 April
Forest Research - annual research update
Northern Research Station, Roslin (near Edinburgh)

20 April
Chiltern Woodlands' Woods at Work event
FC's Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire.
The theme is woodfuel, but there will also be pole lathes, horse logging, mobile sawmills and coppice crafts.  Tel: 01844 355503

23-24 April
Institute of Chartered Foresters annual conference, Edinburgh
Carbon lean UK - a role for our trees, woods and forests?

29 April
Evaluating & classifying timber for the wood processing industry, Exeter Racecourse
A seminar organised by FR's Northern Research Station with ConFor and SW Woodland Renaissance.  Chris Roberts tel: 10548 810403

27-29 May
World Bioenergy 2008, Jönköping, Sweden
A biennial event co-organised by the Swedish Bioenergy Association, SVEBIO, and Elmia AB.  Tel: Alan Sherrard, Elmia, 00 46 36-15 22 14

28-30 May
Carrefour International du Bois (international timber tradeshow), Nantes, France

4-7 June
KWF, forestry exhibition, Schmallenberg, Germany

11-13 June
Forexpo, forestry exhibition, Bordeaux, France

21-24 June
Royal Welsh Show, Builth Wells

25-27 July
CLA Game Fair, Blenheim Palace, Oxon,

18-20 September
ConFor's International Forestry Exhibition, Cannock Chase.

© Copyright 2007 Confederation of Forest Industries (UK) Ltd (ConFor). Registered in Scotland No. SC34467

59 George St, Edinburgh EH2 2JG, UK. Tel: +44 (0)131 240 1410 Fax: +44 (0)131 240 1411 Contact us online