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Forestry Commision – the National Forest Inventory (NFI). ~ by Lewis

Forestry Commision - the National Forest Inventory (NFI).

The Forestry Comission has just announced the first results of the National Forest Inventory (NFI); the NFI replaces the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees (NIWT).  The 'woods and trees' inventory has been compiled (using various methods) since the 1920’s when there was considerable concern about the ‘stock’ of woodland and timber that could used in an ‘emergency’; e.g. when it was not possible to import timber from Europe or ‘The Empire’ as was the case during WW1.

The new inventory make use of high tech aerial photography and satellite imaging ; these allow things to be seen in much greater detail than before.  Improved GIS (geographic information systems / software) allows more accurate data capture and detailed reporting.  Specific details of the differences between the NFI and NIWT can found at http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-8BRBUX.

The NFI  has recorded all woods greater than 0.5 ha (both rural and urban) and the results show that the U.K. has more woodland than previously estimated.

Area New estimate (hectares) Old estimates (hectares)
U.K. total 2, 982, 000 

(13% of TLA*)

2, 757, 000 


England 1, 294, 000 


1, 130, 00 


Scotland 1,385, 000 




Wales 303, 500 


284, 000 


* TLA = of total land area

It is hoped that the NFI survey will provide a ‘robust and credible” baseline for planning increased tree cover across the U.K, especially in urban areas.  Planners and developers seem to be realising the importance of ‘ecological services’ provided by trees and woodlands – for example:

  • An urban cooling effect
  • Improving the visual environment
  • Interception of heavy rain / run off
  • Absorption of carbon dioxide / acting as a Carbon store
  • Soil stabilisation

Further information available here :  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/inventory and


Perhaps the information /data that this project generates will also help inform the deliberations of the Independent Forestry Panel - http://www.defra.gov.uk/rural/forestry/panel/.

Postscript : 

The 'value' of trees and nature, in general, has just been looked at through the National  Ecosystem Assessment scheme.  Scientists have tried to put an economic value on the various ecosystems and ecosystem services that our environment offers.

British woodlands and heaths draw in carbon, and also offer places to walk and relax.  Our bees and other pollinating insects play a vital role in the pollination of fruit and other crops.  Clean rivers promote diversity, whilst allowing for economic benefits through boating, sailing and angling.

Details of this survey - the first detailed assessment since 1945 can be found here :uknea.unep-wcmc.org/ and  http://www.lwec.org.uk/activities/nea


Posted in: Flora & Fauna, Woodland Activities ~ On: 2 June, 2011

2 comments so far

4 June, 2011

b harris
3 June, 2011

good news: maybe local planners won’t be so anal with there tpo’s in future – but i doubt it. Up the revolution .
Long live our forests for we may one day need to hide .

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