Trees & Tree Felling
The Forestry Commission is the relevant authority in England and Scotland, and in Wales it is Natural Resources Wales. Unless your wood is covered by a Tree Preservation Order, or lies in a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the Forestry Commission rules allow most of the routine cutting you are likely to want to do. In particular, they only count as trees those that are above 8cm diameter at breast height. Beyond that, you can without permission cut five cubic metres of timber in any one calendar quarter for private use. The volume of a tree can be calculated from its diameter and height (generally ignoring the branches); the Forestry Commission have a summary table to show how many trees represent 5 cubic meters. So for example, every three months you would be able to cut down 70 trees that are 4m tall and of 15cm diameter in the middle, giving plenty of scope for management and glade/path creation. It is now generally seen as desirable to have some glades or clearings in woodland so you will not have problems if your cutting is sensible.
If you want or need to fell more trees, you will need a felling licence from the Forestry Commission. This is issued by your local FC officer, who will probably meet you in your wood to discuss it, and also possibly a management plan covering the whole of your wood for several years. Grants may be available if you need to do a substantial amount of work. In our experience the Forestry Commission is an extremely helpful organisation and the individuals at the local office are keen to help and are increasingly promoting objectives that do not just relate to growing timber. There is no charge for their visit or advice or for the felling licence. For a great deal more information, see the Forestry Commission advice on tree felling.
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