Church Commissioners recognised for responsible management of Welsh forest


The Church Commissioners for England is pleased to be recognised by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society at the 2021 Woodlands Competition.

The Commissioners’ Coed Llandegla forest was recognised for its top-class forestry, including gold medals for ‘conifer planting or restocking under 10 years old’ and ‘conifer woodland 11-30 years old’.

The Coed Llandegla forest covers 6.5sq km of land in Denbighshire, North Wales. In addition to growing high-quality, FSC-certified softwood timber for the domestic market, the forest is open for local people and the public to enjoy, including activities such as walking and mountain biking. 

The forest was originally planted in the 1970s, and through phased harvesting and replanting we have been able to introduce significant improvements to the structure of the forests, leading to a more diverse mixture of age classes, including continuous cover forestry in parts of the forest. With the mature, harvested timber being sold to local mills, the replanted, award-winning young forests will ensure a sustainable supply into the future. 

Conservation measures are implemented on Coed Llandegla to complement the surrounding moorland and improve habitat for black grouse which are present on site. Biodiversity is a key area of concern for the Church Commissioners and a major consideration in decision-making around how our land is managed. This is in line with the Commissioners’ responsible investment approach of maintaining ‘respect for the planet and people’ throughout our work.

The phased harvesting and replanting is still underway across the Commissioners’ UK forests, but the improvements to date are reflected in the current proportions of land use:

  • 20% of open space, designed to provide natural open habitats without human intervention.
  • 5% of native broadleaves, planted to provide biodiversity improvements in the short term and seed sources for the long term. Additional broadleaf planting is undertaken on an annual basis.
  • 3% of mature forest is retained beyond its economic and biological rotation for the benefit of wildlife while the forests undergo restructuring.
  • 6% is comprised of diverse conifers, planted to benefit biodiversity and landscape, which will eventually produce sustainable timber; however, with reduced financial returns.
  • 66% is primarily productive conifers producing high-quality, sustainable and certified timber for the UK construction industry.

All 92,700 acres of the Commissioners directly owned commercial forests as well as our fund and joint venture interests in the UK, US and Ireland are fully certified to high sustainable standards. During 2020 we planted 2.5m trees across the portfolio, including the establishment of a new 154 acre woodland in Perthshire comprising 142,000 trees.

The Church Commissioners is a leading responsible investor, and forestry is a vital part of the portfolio. Proactively making low-carbon investments is a crucial to our approach in tackling climate change, and our sustainably certified forestry portfolio is the cornerstone of this strategy.

Chris West, Head of Indirect Property, Timberland and Infrastructure for the Church Commissioners for England, said: 
“Being recognised in this way by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society is testament to the work of the team and the managing agents who care for this land every day. ‘Respect for the Planet’ is key to the Commissioners’ approach and our net zero commitment. We are pleased to be invested in low carbon sectors which do good for the world, and the local areas they support.”