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Area of woodland: changes over time

The 3.17 million hectares of woodland in the UK in 2018 represents 13% of the total land area. This comprises 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 8% in Northern Ireland (Table 1.2).

Table 1.2 Woodland area in the United Kingdom

Year England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland UK
  Area
(000 ha)
%1 Area
(000 ha)
%1 Area
(000 ha)
%1 Area
(000 ha)
%1 Area
(000 ha)
%1
10862 .. ~15 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
c13502 .. ~10 .. .. .. ~4 .. .. .. ..
17thC2,3 .. ~8 .. .. .. ~4 .. ~1.5 .. ..
19053 681 5.2 88 4.2 351 4.5 15 1.1 1140 4.7
1924 660 5.1 103 5.0 435 5.6 13 1.0 1211 5.0
19473 755 5.8 128 6.2 513 6.6 23 1.7 1419 5.9
1965 886 6.8 201 9.7 656 8.4 42 3.1 1784 7.4
1980 948 7.3 241 11.6 920 11.8 67 4.9 2175 9.0
1995-99 1097 8.4 287 13.8 1281 16.4 81 6.0 2746 11.3
19984 1241 9.5 299 14.4 1299 16.7 81 6.0 2920 12.0
20185,6 1307 10.0 308 14.8 1445 18.5 113 8.2 3173 13.1

Source: Forestry Commission, Natural Resources Wales, Forest Service, National Forest Inventory.

Notes:

1. Percentage of the total surface area excluding inland water. The total surface areas, excluding inland water, are taken from the UK Standard Area Measurements (published by the Office for National Statistics).

2. Estimates for England and Scotland before 1905 come from a variety of sources, including the Domesday Survey of England, Scottish Woodland History (TC Smout ed, 1997) and Roy maps c1750.

3. For Northern Ireland, 17th century figure is estimate for all Ireland, 1905 figure is estimate for Ulster 1908, 1947 figure assumes no change from 1939-40 Census.

4. 1998 figures shown for England, Wales and Scotland have been revised from those originally published to produce estimates that are consistent with subsequent data from the National Forest Inventory.

5. Figures for England, Wales and Scotland are based on data obtained from the National Forest Inventory (NFI) and adjusted for new planting, but at present no adjustment is made for woodland recently converted to another land use. Further information on how the figures have been estimated is available in the Sources chapter.

6. Figures for Northern Ireland are obtained from the Northern Ireland Woodland Register.

.. Denotes data not available.

These figures are outside the scope of National Statistics.  For further information see the Sources chapter.

 

    

Figure 1.1 shows woodland area by country since 1998. Figures for 1998 to 2009 for England, Wales and Scotland have been revised from those initially published, to produce results that are consistent with the National Forest Inventory and enable comparisons over time. A breakdown of this revision process is outlined in section 11.1.1: Woodland area in the Sources chapter.

The chart indicates that the UK woodland area has risen by around 250 thousand hectares since 1998, an increase of 9% over the period.

Figure 1.1 Area of woodland, 1998-2018

Fig1.1.png

Source: Forestry Commission, Natural Resources Wales, Forest Service, National Forest Inventory.

Notes:

1. Woodland areas for England, Wales and Scotland shown in this figure are based on data from the National Forest Inventory. The trends shown take account of areas of new planting and identifiable permanent woodland loss. Areas of woodland loss that are not yet identifiable (e.g. conversion of woodland for the restoration of open habitats) are not accounted for. Further information on the National Forest Inventory is available at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/national-forest-inventory/.

Additional resources

Sources chapter: Woodland area

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