The government should intervene in English forestry, but not the timber industry as long as it operates sustainably, according to a study from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The report, compiled by a a consortium led by CJC Consulting, examines the economic rationale behind the government’s policy goals for forestry laid down in its “England Forestry Strategy 1998”. It also looks at the role of the forestry sector in achieving government goals in sustainable development and what “society requires from England’s forests”.

DEFRA concludes that there is a strong case for government intervention in forestry as it could “deliver public good outputs in the form of urban and peri-urban amenity and local access, recreation, biodiversity and urban regeneration”.

But the report also suggests the arguments for intervention are less strong in associated areas, notably timber production – “unless public good output is put at risk by failure to manage woodlands sustainably”.

The DEFRA analysis forms the first stage of a “broad review of forestry arrangements in England which was agreed as part of the Defra settlement of the Spending Review 2002”.