At 31 March 2021…

  • The area of woodland in the UK is estimated to be 3.23 million hectares (13% of the UK land area). This represents 10% of the land area in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 9% in Northern Ireland.
  • 44% 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 proportion of total land area has increased by 2.4% in the UK (an increase of 0.3 percentage points)

  • See the Forestry Commission provisional woodland statistics report - 2021 edition for more information.

    Also, see the Woodland Natural Capital Accounts (available from the Office for National Statistics) for information on ecosystem services for woodlands in the UK.

    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 2021 are provisional. Figures for non-certified woodland in Northern Ireland are not shown prior to 2013 due to a change in the Northern Ireland methodology. Therefore, headline figures for non-certified woodland in the UK are also not shown prior to 2013. There was no change in the methodology for certified woodland.

    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
    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, as updated data may include revisions for 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

    Figures for 2021 are provisional (correct at 31 March 2021).

    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 Quality Report on the Forest Research Resources page. Data follows the UN specification for this indicator. This indicator has been identified in collaboration with topic experts.

    Data last updated 03 December 2021
    Metadata last updated 03 December 2021

    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 for target 15.1 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 17 June 2021
    Next release

    30 September 2021

    Statistical classification

    National Statistic

    Contact details

    statistics@forestresearch.gov.uk

    Other information

    The methodology used to produce annual estimates of woodland area in Great Britain can be found here under ‘Annual woodland area estimates 2012’.

    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 (Latest) opens in a new window
    Release date 22 January 2021
    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 2020, found in the zip file in the link to the data source.