Written evidence submitted by Confor (TPW0089)


In September 2020, Confor carried out surveys of the workforce presently deployed in the forest tree nursery sector, and similarly in the planting and establishment businesses responsible for planting the 130 million trees in the UK each year.  The surveys have shown that in the forest nurseries 57% of the workforce is from the EU, with 65% of these people coming to work seasonally.  In the planting and establishment businesses, the survey picked up responses from those who plant nearly 50% of the annual planting programme, and that one-third of this labour comes from the EU, with 55% travelling seasonally to the UK to do this vital work. 

Confor draws Government attention to dependence on EU and foreign labour in vital forestry jobs


All forestry statistics can be found here: Forestry Statistics 2020 - Forest Research


Next statistics will be published in September 2021.


The statistics relating to timber removals, i.e. harvesting, and deliveries to processors are here: 2: Timber - Forest Research


Some facts and figures:


  1. The woodland area in the United Kingdom in 2020 is 3.2 million hectares; The total area of native woodland in Great Britain is estimated to be around 1.51 million hectares (just under 50%).
  1. 13.7 thousand hectares of new woodland were created in the UK in 2019-20.
  2. In 2018 32,000 people were employed in forestry and wood processing (16 thousand in forestry, 10 thousand in sawmilling and 6 thousand in panel mills.)
  3. Forestry and wood processing is an industry worth over £2.5 billion to the UK economy in 2018;
  4. The UK was the second largest net importer (imports less exports) of forest products in 2018, behind China.


Figures released in May 2021 showed, in terms of harvesting of UK roundwood - 10.0 million green tonnes of softwood (+2%) & 0.8 million green tonnes of hardwood (-5%).


        Total: 10.8 million green tonnes of roundwood (softwood and hardwood)
(-2%), of which:

        Sawmills: 6.0 million green tonnes (unchanged) - about 55% of total. This is going to high-value markets - construction, fencing, pallets, etc NOT all into chip and biomass (80% of hardwoods are going into firewood markets - with better management, we can derive much more value from hardwoods)

        Wood-based panels: 1.2 million green tonnes (-5%);

        Integrated pulp and paper mills: 0.4 million green tonnes (-17%);

        Other uses, including round fencing, wood fuel, shavings and exports of roundwood: 3.2 million green tonnes (-4%);  Wood products imported into the UK in 2019 were valued at £8.3 billion and included 7.0 million cubic metres of sawnwood, 3.7 million cubic metres of wood-based panels, 8.9 million tonnes of wood pellets and 5.2 million tonnes of paper.


June 2021