Archive charts the creation of the Forestry Commission

A unique online archive charting the concerns of foresters in the UK throughout the First World War and the creation of the Forestry Commission has gone live at

This historic record traces the work of the Royal Forestry Society (then known as the Royal Arboriculture Society of England) through the pages of the much respected Quarterly Journal of Forestry (QJF) throughout the First World War and during the first years of peace.

It offers a unique insight into the development of UK forestry policy leading to the creation of the Forestry Commission in 1919 and has been made possible by support from the Scottish Forestry Trust, the Doris Field Charitable Trust and document scanning bureau, SDS Group to digitise 28 volumes of the Quarterly Journal of Forestry from 1914-1920.

The volumes are fully indexed and freely available. Many of the themes found in the articles resonate with forestry today – pests and diseases, species selection and relative performance, timber production, profitability and availability of skilled labour. Others are unique to the times, including the many lives lost by Royal Forestry Society (RFS) members during the war and the appeal to RFS members for supplies of alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) for gunpowder.

RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: “The setting up of the Forestry Commission was a defining point in the development of forestry in the UK in the twentieth century. The Forestry Commission’s original role was to create a strategic supply of home-gown timber.  It succeeded, having overseen an increase in UK forest cover from 5% to 13% and helped establish an internationally competitive domestic timber processing industry. It is also noted for its world-class research and valued guidance for woodland owners and managers. The Forestry Commission’s popularity was underscored by the public outcry at its threatened privatisation in 2010.”

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