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The definition of woodland in United Kingdom forestry statistics is land under stands of trees with a canopy cover of at least 20% (or having the potential to achieve this), including integral open space, and including felled areas that are awaiting restocking. There is no minimum height for trees to form a woodland at maturity, so the definition includes woodland scrub but not areas with only shrub species such as gorse or Rhododendron.

There is no minimum size for a woodland. In this report, statistics based on the National Forest Inventory (NFI), refer to woods and forests of at least 0.5 hectares, as mapped through the NFI. Previously, figures based on the 1995-99 National Inventory of Woodland and Trees included sample-based estimates for woods and forests between 0.1 hectares and 2.0 hectares in addition to mapped areas of 2.0 hectares or over.

This is a slightly different definition from that used internationally which is based on 10% canopy cover, a minimum height at maturity of 5m and minimum area of 0.5 hectares. The latest estimate of the effect of the difference in minimum canopy cover threshold, based on the 1995-99 National Inventory of Woodland and Trees, is that there are around 50 thousand hectares of land with 10-20% canopy cover in the UK (or around 2% of the total UK woodland area).

Integral open space is included in woodland area figures derived from the National Forest Inventory if the areas of open space are less than 0.5 hectares; larger areas are mapped out and excluded from the woodland area figures. This differs slightly from the approach used for the National Inventory of Woodland and Trees, where areas of open space of up to 1.0 hectare were included as woodland.

Woodland includes native and non-native trees; semi-natural and plantation areas. Woodland habitat types are not currently differentiated in these statistics.

Most public sector woodland is owned by or managed by the Forestry Commission (FC) in England and Scotland, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in Wales, or the Forest Service (FS) in Northern Ireland. Woodland owned by local authorities, the Ministry of Defence, and other public sector bodies is included in “private sector woodland”.

The Natural Resources Wales woodland areas and land areas shown in this release relate to areas previously owned or managed by Forestry Commission Wales. They exclude any areas previously owned or managed by other parts of Natural Resources Wales, such as the former Environment Agency in Wales and the former Countryside Council for Wales.

The following pages provide more detail on the data sources and methodology used to produce statistics on woodland area and planting. A quality report on Woodland Area, Planting and Restocking is available from our Quality web page.

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