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Indicator 15.1.1 Forest area as a proportion of total land area

Woodland area as a percentage of total land area, and woodland area certified as sustainably managed as a percentage of total land area

At 31 March 2020…

  • The estimated woodland area as a percentage of total land area in the UK is at the highest point in the last 17 years at 13.2%
  • The area of woodland in the UK is estimated to be 3.21 million hectares. This represents 10% of the total land area in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland.
  • 43% of woodland area in the UK is certified as sustainably managed

Since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 woodland area as a percentage of total land area has increased by 1.6% (UK)

See the Forestry Commission provisional woodland statistics report - 2020 edition for more information.

Information on Woodland Natural Capital Accounts, containing information on ecosystem services for woodlands inthe UK is available from the Office for National Statistics.

Sub-categories

Choose categories from the dropdowns below to see different breakdowns of the data. Some will not be available until a higher level is chosen.

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Headline data

Source: Forest Research

Geographical Area: United Kingdom

Unit of Measurement: Percentage (%)

Footnote: Figures for 2020 are provisional. Figures for Northern Ireland and the UK are not shown prior to 2013 due to a change in methodology.

This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from UK statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from UK statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other UK-specific metadata information.

Indicator available

Woodland area as a percentage of total land area, and woodland area certified as sustainably managed as a percentage of total land area

Indicator description

This indicator shows total woodland area as a percentage of land area, and the area of woodland that is certified against agreed environmental standards as a percentage of land area. While the data presented by the UN uses the same source as we present here, there may be some inconsistencies due to differences in when data are updated. We present more up-to-date estimates that may include revisions to earlier years.

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Unit of measurement

Percentage (%)

Definitions

Forest/woodland - all forest and woodland area over 0.5 hectare with a minimum of 20% canopy cover (25% in Northern Ireland) (or the potential to achieve it) and a minimum width of 20 metres, including areas of new planting, clearfell, windblow and restocked areas. This differs from the UN definition for which the minimum canopy cover is 10% (or the potential to achieve it)

Woodland certification - Woodland certification assesses management practices against agreed environmental standards. Certification requires that wood products are harvested legally and sustainably, and that important wildlife habitats are identified and are not negatively impacted by management. Woodland certification schemes promote good forest practice and are used to demonstrate that wood or wood products come from well-managed forests.

Available disaggregations
Calculations

Woodland as a percentage of land area = (Area of woodland /Land area ) * 100

Certified woodland as a percentage of land area = (Area of certified woodland / Land area) * 100

Non-certified woodland as a percentage of land area = Woodland as a percentage of land area - Certified woodland as a percentage of land area

Other information

Woodland area estimates for Great Britain are based on the National Forest Inventory (NFI) Woodland map. For Northern Ireland, following a change of methodology in 2012, woodland area estimates are based on the Northern Ireland Woodland Register. Figures for Northern Ireland (total and non-certified) and the whole of the UK (total and non-certified) prior to 2013 are available at Forest Research, but are not shown here, as estimates before the change in methodology are not directly comparable to those after.

All certified woodland is certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) scheme, with many woodlands certified under both. Certified woodland areas are often used as an indicator of sustainable forest management, however, woodland that is not certified may also be sustainably managed. Some choose not to become certified because there is a cost involved in getting certified and there may be little incentive for woodland owners to get their woodlands certified if timber production is not a major objective.

Certification in the UK began in 1996. Data prior to 2004 are not presented here due to differences in methodology, which mean the data are not directly comparable.

New certificates may relate to existing woodland that was not previously certified, or to newly planted areas.

The land area and forest area measurements used here are ‘flat’ as they do not take into account variations in relief e.g. mountains and valleys.

For further information on the methodology and quality of woodland area estimates please see the Forest Research 2020 edition of Provisional Woodland Statistics. Data follows the UN specification for this indicator. This indicator has been identified in collaboration with topic experts.

Data last updated 2020-10-16: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window
Metadata last updated 2020-10-16: see changes on GitHub opens in a new window

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name

Forest area as a proportion of total land area

Target name

By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements

Global indicator description
UN designated tier

Tier I

UN custodian agency

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Link to UN metadata United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Metadata (PDF 379 KB) opens in a new window

Source 1

Organisation

Forest Research

Periodicity

Annual

Earliest available data

2004

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source Woodland Statistics opens in a new window
Release date

11th June 2020

Next release

24th September 2020

Statistical classification

National Statistic

Contact details

statistics@forestresearch.gov.uk

Other information

Source 2

Organisation

Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Periodicity

Annual

Earliest available data
Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source Standard Area Measurements for Administrative Areas (2019) opens in a new window
Release date

01/04/2020

Next release
Statistical classification

Official Statistics

Contact details

ons.geography@ons.gov.uk

Other information

For more information on land area measurements see the Standard Area Measurements User Guide 2019, found in the zip file in the link to the data source.