The first ever comprehensive study of forestry and woodland in the south west of England has revealed they are worth £575m to the region’s economy.

The report, published by the Forestry Commission and the South West Regional Development Agency, has looked at the timber industry and the wider uses of woodland for recreation, tourism, sport, nature, conservation, education and healthy living.

The timber industry contributes £200m to the region’s economy and supports some 2,570 full time jobs, while around 1,200 companies dealing in woodland by-products generate a further 14,000 jobs.

For the first time the use of woodland for recreational pursuits was taken into account as a monetary measurement and this revealed an astonishing contribution to the economy of £300-375m a year.