The two politicians will bookend the event with Mr Patterson to make the opening keynote address while Mr Heath will make the closing presentation. The conference, sponsored by UPM Tilhill, will be held at the RICS in Westminster on October 25.

Confor chief executive Stuart Goodall said 2012 had been a landmark year for English forestry with publication of the Independent Panel on Forestry’s report.

The conference has been timed to coincide with the government’s consideration of the panel’s recommendations and will feed into the advice on the government’s response, he said.

"We have an excellent line-up of speakers and there will be opportunities for participants to put their questions and views across," said Mr Goodall.