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Key Actions 2021-2022

CentreActionCommentary at the end of 2021-22 financial year
5Develop and implement procedures to enable the safe, efficient and quality-assured operation of the Holt laboratory as a tree and plant health facility.
The facility was opened by Lord Benyon on 28th February and is in active use. Procedures to enable the safe, efficient and quality-assured operation of the Holt Laboratory as a tree health facility have been developed and implemented. The licences to operate as a containment facility have been transferred to the new facility and have been approved by APHA and the facility commenced fully functioning in January 2022. There is ongoing work to obtain ISO17025 recognition; this will be progressed during FY22/23 based on comprehensive system development undertaken to date.
16Initiate the Centre for Forest Protection as a collaborative hub that brings together expertise in the UK and internationally to protect and enhance the health of our trees and forests.
An agreed research strategy and workplan is in place.  A research strategy and associated workplan for the next three years has been developed and approved by the governance group in March 2022 following funding confirmation in SR21 for the next 3 years. The centre was informally launched by Lord Benyon on 28th February and will be formally launched externally in Plant Health Week in during May 2022.  The research activities agreed for 21/22 have been completed as planned except for some small adjustments because of Covid-related travel restrictions and minor delays in recruitment.
17Publish the Joint Agencies’ (Forest Research, Natural England, Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot) report on “Why society needs nature: lessons from research during Covid-19” and an academic paper on physical activity supporting connections to nature and wellbeing during the Covid restrictions.
The report “Why society needs nature – lessons from research during Covid-19 – Forest Research” has been published on FR’s website. and is on FR’s website. Chief Scientists from each of the organisations involved in the work highlighted the report through social media on the day of its launch. The academic paper on physical activity is published and is put into context on the FR website. Liz O’Brien presented on the work at an FR seminar series, the video can be watched here.
11Publish the Forestry Commission Practice Guide on designing and managing forests to reduce flood risk.
The draft text for the practice guide is complete and was approved by England and Wales in August 2021. Scotland agreed that FR should proceed with design and editing whilst awaiting formal sign-off. The draft text for the practice guide is with FR Publications along with appropriate images and diagrams. The design and editing process is underway but we are still awaiting formal sign-off by Scotland.
1Produce a briefing summary and data dashboard on the public perceptions of urban tree research in partnership with Network Rail, Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust, The Mersey Forest and AJ Moffatt and Associates.
The data dashboard and briefing paper have been completed and published. The data dashboard on the public’s perceptions of urban trees has been completed along with a briefing summary report and a summary report of the focus group research. All of these are now available on FR’s website. An article was also published on the research in the Institute of Chartered Foresters Trees Magazine.
6Deliver a drought-sensitive process-based growth model for future climate impacts.
The drought-sensitive model is now complete and has been calibrated for two major conifer species. We now have the capability to provide climate change simulations at both stand and regional scales. The model is actively used as part of two externally funded projects – PRAFOR funded by NERC and NetZero+ funded by BBSRC.  After calibration and verification, we used the model for the second half of the FY 2021/2022 to deliver spatial outputs of risk in loss of productivity under different climate change scenarios. We delivered these results to the final report for PRAFOR submitted to NERC. Furthermore, we are working on integrating the risk maps within the ESC online DSS framework, which will be available soon. We also started developing and calibrating the model for broadleaf species, focusing on oak and beech.
7Deliver an update of the woodland carbon sequestration estimates for inclusion in the Woodland Carbon Code ‘Woodland Carbon Calculation Spreadsheet’, incorporating revisions based on new forest yield models.
A database of tree biomass measurements has been compiled, data analysis and modelling are ongoing. Development has been completed of a set of new stem volume equations for a range of tree species, and a report has been prepared. These equations can be used to estimate stem biomass and carbon if standard values for wood density and carbon content are assumed. Models for foliage, branch and root biomass are still under development but are well advanced.
8Produce a report for the Forestry Commission on wood properties and uses of larch in Britain.
A substantial document is in the final stages of internal review.
12Produce a briefing summary and report on the value of the nation’s non-woodland trees, in partnership with Defra.
A draft report was submitted to Defra on schedule, review comments were addressed and the report submitted for sign-off at an end of project dissemination meeting in February 2022; the document is in final stages of Defra internal publication approval process.
9Publish the Forest Development Types (FDT) Management Guide and flashcards, incorporate FDTs into Esc and ForesterWeb, and develop a series of webinars and a process of knowledge exchange to inform and educate forestry professionals about the FDT concept.
The Management Guide and flashcards have been published and are available; they are downloadable from the FR website.  Information on FDTs has been incorporated into ESC and Forester Web and is being used by England, Wales and Scotland; we are helping them understand how to use FDTs in their business through a series of training events held and programmed for the coming year. In addition, we have published a paper in Quarterly Journal of Forestry.
2Publish the action plan and report on progress on the National Forest Inventory Independent Review Group recommendations.
The Action Plan was published in May of 2021 and Project Manager for the work was appointed at the end of 2021.  The First progress report will be due in the next financial year.  Since appointment the Project Manager has established the programme plan and confirmed governance arrangements for oversight of this work.  A series of project have been identified with named leads for each project now confirmed.
13Produce key national forestry statistics.
All key statistical information planned for release this financial year were published as per the plan timetable.  Forestry facts and figures continues to be well received and plans are now being put in to place to allow interested parties the ability to interact with our published data, although this will take some months to fully implement.
18Review and implement the Forest Research Data Strategy.
FR’s Data Strategy has been revised and work concluded in autumn 2021. Now working with Head of FRIT on agreeing an implementation plan. Work has now started on self service tools that will allow consumers to interact with the FR data holding.  This work will take some months to complete, which will include an online portal for interested parties to request access to our data and the terms and conditions for granting this.
14Ensure successful delivery of Forest Research component of Defra’s Natural Capital Ecosystems Assessment Programme.
The NCEA programme successfully delivered agreed requirements with notable highlights being a Trees Outside Woodlands (ToW) map, a habitat map, a dominant stand Genus map, two sets of field software options for Natural England and eDNA soils surveying as well as bat surveying using acoustic sensors and machine learning.
3Continue to support, develop and upgrade ForesterWeb for our client base.
Agreed a roadmap with principal customers to allow them over time to make far greater use of the configurability of the Forester platform.  A key component is creating individual test and train environments, where they can explore changes without affecting the live environment.  A project has been scoped that will allow new customers to access the system in way that greatly reduces the FR overhead and offers better opportunities to try the system to see if it is suitable for their business purposes.
4Provide technical support for Defra on international forestry policy, facilitate discussions on international forestry matters between the devolved administrations and increase the awareness and research activity of FR in the international arena.
Our international forestry adviser is in regular contact with Defra teams, attends agreed international meetings (e.g. UNFF and Forest Europe), holds quarterly liaison meetings with Defra and the Devolved administrations; and has facilitated participation of FR staff in Commonwealth Forestry Association and ForestEurope Expert Panel meetings.
10Support the England Tree Action Plan through provision of advice and development of evidence gathering.
We have carried out a range of projects in support of Defra with funding from the NCF, and also provided advice directly to FC via service agreements.  We are involved in the current scoping of the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for the NCF programme.  Our Chief Scientist attends meetings of Defra’s Trees and Woods Science Advisory Group (TAW-SAG).
19Develop our Environment Management System and produce a De-carbonisation Plan in line with government Net Zero emissions legislation so that it guides future investments in our built estate.
We have continued to evolve our EMS through process improvement, action by the EMS Management Review Team, and investment (prioritising replacement of refrigeration equipment with GHGs which are to be phased out). Our EMS was tested against ISO14001 by LRQA during 2021 and passed, enabling certification for a further 3 year period. Built Estate and Energy plans are identifying investments needed to comply with government aims.
20Implement the Changing the Way We Work change programme.
The Forestry Commission framework has been adopted. FR, as part of the FC, have been awarded a “Mature” rating when audited by the Civil service to assess implementation of arrangements. Engagement with staff, resources developed and published and briefing sessions completed. New working arrangements are now being implemented within teams.
15Ensure financial balance is achieved for the agency by meeting the revenue break even target and strengthen the Business Development and Bidding capabilities of all FR staff by providing resources, increasing their awareness of potential funds and supporting the successful submission of bids.
See details in FR Annual Report