Overview of new powers within the Forestry Act 1967, their implementation and guidance.
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
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.
The Forestry Act 1967 did not allow conditions in felling licences to ensure the protection of:
- 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 such as the presence of a protected species coming to light, 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
We have given NRW guidance on "Amending the Forestry Act 1967: principles of implementation" that we expect them to use. Their high level paper "Amending the Forestry Act 1967: Natural Resources Wales approaches paper" sets out the approach they will use to put the new powers in place. It is based on our non-statutory guidance.
NRW are working with key stakeholders to develop full external guidance. This will ensure a practical approach to the new powers. They are also developing internal guidance to ensure a consistent approach. These guides will be ready in time for the new powers coming into force on 1 April 2024.