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Overview of the Forestry Act 1967 and the procedures and powers it sets out in relation to felling licences.

First published:
28 March 2024
Last updated:


Tree felling is a necessary part of sustainable woodland management. It allows the harvesting of carbon locked up in timber for a range of uses. Some uses, such as building materials, continue to lock up carbon as well as substituting other higher carbon materials such as steel and concrete. Woodland management also contributes to maintaining and improving the condition of woodland habitats. 

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) regulates tree felling using powers in the Forestry Act 1967 (“the Act”). 

The Act provides 

  • the legal framework for felling trees in England and Wales 
  • the requirement for felling licences. 
  • the duties and powers that NRW has to:
    • regulate the felling of trees 
    • develop woodland creation
    • the production and supply of timber and other forestry products

The Act also sets out procedures and powers in relation to 

  • felling licences 
  • tree preservation orders, and 
  • felling directions 

including the procedure to enable people to appeal against the decisions of NRW in the course of their regulatory duties.

Balancing duty

Under the Act, NRW must aim to achieve a reasonable balance between tree planting, management and timber production, with the conservation of biodiversity and the environment.

To assist this duty, the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023 amended the Forestry Act 1967 to better protect wildlife and the environment during felling operations. An overview of these new powers, their implementation and guidance can be found on our webpage: Forestry Act 1967: new powers

Felling licences

You must get a felling licence from NRW before felling growing trees, subject to limited exemptions.

You can find out more about exemptions and applying for felling licences on the NRW website. 

As part of their regulatory duties, NRW Regulatory Woodland officers may inspect a site, for example:

  • to ensure work complies with conditions in the felling licence, or
  • to investigate where felling has taken place without the authority of a felling licence.

They may decide to give you a formal notice, under the Forestry Act 1967, to address an issue where discussions cannot resolve it. Where this is the case, they will also provide the relevant appeal form and where to send your appeal notice.  

Appealing a decision by NRW