Church Commissioners Written Answer: forestry and timberland holdings

On 1st April 2019 the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP, answered three written questions on the Commissioners’ forestry holdings:

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith): 238374 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to her oral contribution of 28 March 2019, Official Report on the Archbishop’s Council’s Strategic Development Fund, if she will publish the forestry holdings of the Church of England.

Dame Caroline Spelman: As of December 2018 the forestry holdings of the Church Commissioners amounted to 103,138 acres across the United Kingdom, United States of America and Australia. The Church Commissioners most recent Annual Report sets out in more detail its timberland investments: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2018-05/Church%20Commissioners%20Annual%20Report%202017.pdf


Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith): 238375 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, pursuant to her oral contribution of 28 March 2019, Official Report on the Archbishop’s Council’s Strategic Development Fund, whether it follows Scottish Natural Heritage’s Biodiversity Duty Guidance and Advice in its forestry estates in Scotland.

Dame Caroline Spelman: All forests managed by the Church Commissioners conform to the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS) and the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS), and have Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification. The FSC is recognised by WWF as the “hallmark of responsible forest management”. The Church Commissioners are not required to report under the Scottish Natural Heritage’s ‘Biodiversity Duty Guidance and Advice in its forestry estates in Scotland’, as this applies only to public bodies.


Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith): 238376 To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the oral contribution of the Rt. hon. Member for Meriden, what steps the church takes to ensure that its forestry plantations in Scotland avoid monoculture plantings.

Dame Caroline Spelman: In order to comply with the Forestry Stewardship Council, UK Woodland Assurance Scheme and UK Forestry Standards, forests must contain a maximum of 75% primary species. Latest figures for forests in Scotland managed by the Church Commissioners show that they contain around 65% Sitka spruce, though that percentage was higher when the forests were first planted in the 1960s and 1970s. The remainder comprises native broadleaves and other conifer species such as Scots pine, Norway spruce, Douglas fir and open ground. Open ground makes up approximately 19% of the area under management and mostly comprises native grasses, water (ponds, streams and rivers), heather and rock outcrops. The Church Commissioners will achieve at least 5% native broadleaves by the end of the first rotation.