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Overview of new powers within the Forestry Act 1967, their implementation and guidance.

First published:
20 October 2023
Last updated:


Tree felling is a necessary part of sustainable woodland management. It harvests carbon locked up in timber for a range of uses. It is also an important tool in: 

  • maintaining, or 
  • improving 

the condition of woodland habitats. 

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) regulates tree felling through the Forestry Act 1967. Owners must get a licence before felling growing trees, subject to limited exemptions.

New powers

The Forestry Act 1967 did not allow conditions to be added to felling licences to protect:

  • wildlife
  • habitats, or 
  • the environment 

during felling operations.

This means NRW could have granted a felling licence that didn’t support other environmental legislation. 

NRW also had no powers to amend, suspend or revoke a felling licence if something became unacceptable. This could be: 

  • the need to change a tree species to be replanted owing to disease risk, or
  • an unexpected sensitivity coming to light such as the presence of a protected species, or
  • environmental harm arising during felling operations

The Forestry Act 1967 was amended to:

  • enable environmental conditions to be added to felling licences
  • allow licences to be amended, suspended or revoked after they have been granted

The amendments are part of the Agriculture (Wales) Act 2023 (on You can find them at sections 36-44. 


We have given NRW guidance “Amending the Forestry Act 1967: principles of implementation”. We expect them to use this in applying the powers. NRW  have set out the approach they will use to put the powers in place. See “Amending the Forestry Act 1967: Natural Resources Wales approaches paper” which is based on our non-statutory guidance.