Blurred image of oak tree branches, full of green leaves

UK forestry policy

RSPB work with woodland to address the nature and climate emergency

Ancient woodlands

Fairy Glen RSPB reserve. Foliage: young leaves back-lit, glow a vivid green. The Black Isle, Ross-shire, near Rosemarkie, Scotland

Protect, improve, expand: this is what the Prime Minister promised when he signed the leaders' pledge for nature in 2020. The RSPB advocates for better protection of all ancient woodland as part of UK government's commitment to protect 30% of the UK's land by 2030. This is the UN Decade on Ecological Restoration and we must improve the condition of all our ancient semi-natural woodlands. Plantations on ancient woodland sites must be restored urgently.

Woodland creation

Sunlight shining through and highlighting the lush green of close up oak tree leaves

Tree planting is crucial but afforestation (planting for timber) and woodland creation (expanding native woodlands for biodiversity) needs a strategic approach. Native tree planting and natural colonisation, where seeds are dispersed by the wind and animals, is a more nature friendly approach. Woodland and forestry expansion and restoration projects must consider whether the right trees are being planted in the right place to maximise benefits for nature and climate, for example greater use of native broadleaf species in timber production.

Forests for the future

Close up of an adult male lesser spotted woodpecker, returning to nest hole in a tree trunk, with food in it's beak, RSPB Sherwood Forest Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire

Woodlands and forests can provide habitats for wildlife, help us tackle and adapt to climate change, and provide useful products. Nature needs better management of all woodland and forest types. UK woodlands benefit from active management. This involves increasing the diversity of tree species (including increased use of native species), age, size and density to protect forests against pests, diseases, pollution and climate change.

Evidence based interventions

Close up view of an adult eurasian jay foraging in amongst autumnal leaves at Regent's Park, London, looking side on towards the camera, on a sunny day

We work with partners to demonstrate what nature friendly forestry looks like. We manage RSPB Reserve woodlands to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard. We share our expertise with land managers, for instance through the woodland wildlife toolkit. The RSPB Centre for Conservation Science team research how trees can help tackle the nature and climate emergency, including the causes of and solutions to woodland bird declines. We use this evidence to advocate for change, working with partners across the forest industry and woodland conservation sector.

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