This indicator shows change in the area of broadleaved and conifer woodland in England. Woodland, as defined for the National Forest Inventory, is land under stands of trees with a minimum area of 0.5 hectares, a width of at least 20 metres, and a canopy cover of at least 20% or having the potential to achieve this. The definition relates to land use, rather than land cover, so integral open space and areas of felled trees that are awaiting restocking (replanting) are included as woodland. Woodland is a key natural capital asset that provides many natural capital benefits, such as the provision of timber and other wood products, carbon storage, habitats for wildlife, and opportunities for exercise and recreation.
Readiness and links to data
Data on the area of woodland are published annually in Forest Research’s Forestry Statistics along with information on the data sources and methodology. Additional commentary on recent trends and new planting of woodland and trees in England is provided in the Forestry Commission’s quarterly Key Performance Indicators.
Figure D3: Area of woodland in England, 1980 to 2022
Table D3: Area of woodland in England, 1980 to 2022
Trend description for D3
The total area of woodland in England has increased from 1.21 million hectares in 1990 to 1.32 million hectares in 2022, equating to an increase from 9.2% to 10.2% of the land area of England. This growth has been driven by an increase in broadleaf woodland. The area of conifer woodland in England has remained relatively static over the last 33 years based on the area of new planting. However, an update is expected to March 2022, based on new remote sensing imagery, which will account for conifer woodland converted to open ground priority habitats and Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites restored to native woodland.
Assessment of change
The observed increases in the area of woodland in England over the short and medium term are assessed as ‘little or no change’. This is because it would take a large area of additional woodland cover to reach the 3% increase needed for the ‘improvement’ category to be assigned. There has, however, been an increase (improvement) over the long term. This assessment does not consider whether any improvement is on a sufficient scale for meeting targets.
Change since 2018 has also been assessed. There has been ‘little or no change’ in woodland cover since 2018.
Further information on this assessment, along with details on the methodology, is provided in the Assessment background page. Summaries by 25 Year Environment Plan goal and information on indicator links are presented in the Assessment results pages.
Table D3: Assessment of change
|Component||Subcomponent||Period||Date range||Percentage change||Smoothing function||Assessment of change|
|D3||Total woodland||Short term||2017 to 2022||1.22||Unsmoothed||Little or no change|
|D3||Total woodland||Medium term||2012 to 2022||1.93||Unsmoothed||Little or no change|
|D3||Total woodland||Long term||1990 to 2022||9.79||Unsmoothed||Improvement|
Note that percentage change in Table D3 change refers to the difference seen from the first to last year in the specified date range.