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Headline data

Source: Forest Research

Geographical Area: United Kingdom

Unit of Measurement: Hectares, Percentage (%), Growth rate (%)

Footnote: Figures for woodland area and net change 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
Indicator description

Data are presented for all sub-indicators. Please navigate between sub-indicators using the Units buttons. For 1) Woodland area net change and 5) Woodland area under independently verified management certification schemes, numbers may differ to those on the UN data site due to differences in when data are updated, and differences in the handling of certification data.

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Unit of measurement

Hectares, Percentage (%), Growth rate (%)


Forest/woodland - all forest and woodland area over 0.5 hectares 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

Forest area annual net change, Growth rate (%) = ((Total woodland area in year n - Total woodland area in year n-1) / Total woodland area in year n-1) * 100

Percentage of woodland area under independently verified management certification schemes = (Certified woodland area / Total woodland area) * 100

All other calculations were made prior to data acquisition and further information on these can be found in 'Other information' below and in the links in the sources tab.

Other information

Woodland area estimates

Where possible, figures are for the woodland area certified, rather than the land area certified.

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. Northern Ireland and total UK figures for percentage of forest area with a long-term management plan, and forest area annual net change prior to 2013 are not shown here, as estimates before the change in methodology are not directly comparable to those after. Figures for calculating these are, however, available at Forest Research.

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.

Biomass stock

Data for biomass stock are estimated using National Forest Inventory (NFI) estimates of 218 thousand oven dry tonnes for conifers, and 208 thousand oven dry tonnes for broadleaves in Great Britain (GB). It is assumed that the volume of deadwood per hectare is unchanged over time, and that all estimates per hectare for the UK are similar to GB levels. Growing stock estimates have been used to uprate GB biomass figures from the NFI report to UK figures and to derive a time series.

More information on biomass can be found in the Forestry Commission publication on Biomass in live woodland trees in Britain.

Protected areas

For Great Britain, the woodland area within legally protected areas has been estimated by overlaying the National Forest Inventory woodland map with maps of designated areas. Geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest have been excluded from this analysis, as the designation in these cases is unlikely to be related to the presence of woodland. A similar analysis was undertaken by the Northern Ireland Forest Service for the Forest Resources Assessment 2015.

Long-term management plans

All Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland, Natural Resources Wales, and Forest Service woodland from 2000 is assumed to have a long-term management plan. For private sector woodland, the area of woodland with a long-term management plan has been estimated from data held in administrative systems for Grants & Regulations, or for areas of certified woodland (if this is larger). This is likely to undercount the true level of woodland with a long-term management plan.

Independently verified management certification schemes

Independently verified management certification schemes for the UK are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) scheme and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) scheme. Many woodlands are 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 due to the cost involved and there may be little incentive for woodland owners to get their woodlands certified if timber production is not a major objective.

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

Further information

For further information on the methodology and quality of woodland area estimates please see the Forest Research Woodland Statistics.

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

Progress towards sustainable forest management

Target name

By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally

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 15.2 opens in a new window

Source 1


Forest Research



Earliest available data


Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source Woodland Statistics opens in a new window
Release date 24 September 2020
Next release


Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

Other information

This source is used for Woodland area annual net change, and Woodland area under long-term management plan

Source 2





Earliest available data


Geographical coverage

UK and Great Britain

Link to data source Global Forest Resources Assessment opens in a new window
Release date 05 August 2020
Next release
Statistical classification

Official Statistics

Contact details

Other information

Data can be found in 'Country Reports'.

This source has been used for statistics on biomass, forest area with protected areas, and forest area with a long-term management plan.

These data are collected by FAO from Forest Research (see Source 1) as part of the Global Forest Resources Assessment.