Mr Oates has been a non-executive member of Forestry Commission England’s National Committee since 2007.

He was executive deputy chairman of Marks & Spencer plc from 1994-1999, having joined as finance director in 1984, and was appointed joint managing director in 1991. He was the founder and subsequently chairman of Marks & Spencer Financial Services for 15 years.

He recently retired as chairman of Phaunos Timber Fund, and is a public member of Network Rail. His previous experience includes serving as a non-executive director of Diageo plc, BT plc, the Financial Services Authority and the English and GB Sports Councils, and as a governor of the BBC.

Mr Oates has been appointed for a three-year term, and will continue to serve on the Forestry Commission’s National Committee for England.

Sir Harry Studholme, chair of the board of forestry commissioners, said Mr Oates’s enthusiasm would prove invaluable in guiding the work of the Forestry Commission through what would "undoubtedly be an exciting period of change and progress for forestry in England and Scotland".