Mr Andrew Heald                            DEF0032

Written evidence submitted by Mr Andrew Heald


Introduction and background

Andrew is based in Edinburgh, Scotland and has over 25 years’ experience in sustainable forestry and plantation management. He is a co-founder and Director of NGPTA[1], which has developed and manages large scale forest landscape restoration projects in Ghana, Brazil, Mozambique, and Chile. He has worked for leading international forest product companies including UPM and Mondi, and for major NGOs such as WWF International and FSC International.

Andrew is a professional member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and has worked at a senior level in UK, Ghana and Uruguay. In 2020 Andrew was invited to become a member of the UK’s Government’s Expert Committee on Forest Science[2] and has previously been a member of the UK’s Woodland Carbon Code’s Advisory Board, and the Expert Group on Timber Trade and Statistics.

Andrew had over 20 years’ experience in forest management and chain custody certification. In 2017 he convened the Economic Chamber at FSC’s global General Assembly in Vancouver, representing over 350 international delegates. He is an ISO 14001 Lead Auditor and recently facilitated an FSC International working group on a “continuous improvement program” to enable certification access for smallholders. From 2015 to 2021 he was a Director of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard Ltd, a globally unique national forest certification standard recognised by both FSC and PEFC.

Andrew is also currently the lead consultant supporting the University of Edinburgh[3] with their multi-million-pound carbon investment in forestry, woodland, and peatland restoration.


Consultation Questions



Defra Ministers are ignoring the challenges of future timber demand and supply

UK Government has failed to see (wilfully ignored) the connections between land use policy and the opportunities arising from a decarbonised economy

Growing the UK timber industry


Does the UK Government have an adequate understanding of the future demand for timber, including what tree species should be grown?

At a strategic level the UK Government does not have an adequate understanding. For many years successive the majority of Defra Ministers have demonstrated that they have little or no interest in acquiring that understanding.

There has been repeated attempts by the forestry sector to engage Defra Ministers, but they have been largely ignored.

We have known for many years that domestic timber production is in long term decline, and that national and global demand for timber will increase.[4]


Does the UK government, working with the devolved administrations, have an effective, joined-up plan with appropriate incentives to increase the production and use of sustainable, domestically grown timber in the UK to reduce its reliance on imports?

No. Across the UK only the Scottish Government is addressing this issue with any urgency. In Wales and England, the area of timber production is actually declining. The UK Government has not properly listened to the forestry sector, and Defra does not understand the hurdles that are preventing planting targets being reached. Some of these issue were explored by the recent Efra inquiry into Tree Planting and Woodlands inquiry[5]. These hurdles and challenges were also highlighted in an earlier Efra inquiry in 2017.

Are there sustainable sources of biomass for UK energy generation either from imported or domestically grown wood for pellet or woodchip? And how can future demand be met from sustainable sources?


The 2019 State of Nature report[6] highlights that a lack of woodland management is an ongoing threat to woodland biodiversity. Across the UK there are many thousands of hectares of under managed broad-leaved woodlands. Biomass fuel is an important market for low grade and low quality forestry produce.

Sustainability of forest management is addressed through the well established Forest Management Certification Standards and systems – domestically with UKWAS[7] and internationally via FSC and PEFC.

There can be challenges in some circumstances with the proportion of harvested materials being used for energy production, and the market potentially being skewed by biomass energy payments. However, biomass material will nealry always be the lowest value product harvested from a forest or plantations. Increasing demand for sawn timber, pulp or chip for OSB and MDF, should always keep the price for those products higher than biomass.

Future demand can be met by the UK Government having an evidence-based approach to land use policy, and having a level playing field of regulation and support payments.


How well is the UK Government managing its plans for the domestic timber industry in tandem with meeting its woodland creation targets and related climate change, biodiversity and other environmental goals?

The UK Government’s concept of multifunctional landscapes seems to be a single axis between nature and food production. Government seems unable and unwilling to understand that we can manage woodlands for multiple outcomes – for carbon, biodiversity, people, and timber.

There is decades of evidence that commercial conifer plantations can be managed to produce timber and have a positive impact for biodiversity. Please the list of scientific papers at the end of this Confor report[8].  Recent policy decisions are taking us in the opposite direction and leading to the loss of productive conifer crops and the establishment of low vale and poor quality broadleaved woodlands.

We need more of everything – more native woodland, more commercial forestry and more woodland for recreation. Foresters can deliver these multifunctional forest landscapes, but it would be much easier with clear leadership and support from Defra.


How effectively is the UK strengthening the resilience of its tree stock to ensure it is resilient to the future impacts of climate change, as well as to pests and diseases?

Initiative such at the Future Trees Trust are a great step forward but the UK Government needs to be stronger in highlighting the importance of Assisted Migration to ensure our woodlands are resilient to climate change.

In my opinion the main risk of pests and diseases is probably through the importation of:




The effectiveness of UK efforts to reduce global deforestation


In what ways and to what extent are UK value chains (in the form of public procurement, goods, services, or the private sector) contributing to global deforestation?


How effectively is the Government monitoring the UK’s contribution to global deforestation and its progress in tackling the issue? And what progress has been made by Government to develop an indicator on overseas environmental impacts of UK consumption of key commodities?

How effective are the measures to improve due diligence and ban imported products of illegal deforestation in the Environment Act 2021? Do these measures target the right sectors? Given that they do not extend to all products of deforestation, are they adequate?

I think that they are probably good enough for forest products - we’ve had due diligence processes in certified forest products for 20 years.


To what extent have the Global Resource Initiative (GRI) Taskforce’s recommendations on deforestation and land conversion been met by the Government?

In the GRI summary timber is only mentioned twice, and I could see no reference to FSC or certification. The safest option is to reduce the volume of forest products that we import, and grow more in the UK. However, the outcome of Defra policy for the last 20 years is to reduce domestic timber production and rely more heavily in imports.


What role can sustainable certification and Government Buying Standards (GBS), have in tackling deforestation? How can the UK Government support the private sector to reduce its contribution to furthering deforestation?

UK Government Ministers could show some basic interest in timber production and occasionally visit domestic sawmills and forests. It must prioritise and champion the purchasing of UK forest products and promote domestic timber in the same way it promotes UK food. It is difficult to do this without a competent forestry minister.


Andrew Heald

September 2022