PROTECTING the 'water environment' during forest operations is the focus of a new Forestry Commission good practice guide.

Providing advice on how forest operations should be planned and managed to protect the water environment, the guide will help ensure that they comply with the UK Forestry Standard Guidelines on Forests and Water – the primary source of information on the legal and good practice requirements.

Technical author and lead expert in forest hydrology for Forest Research, Dr Tom Nisbet, said: “The environmental benefits provided by trees and woodlands are increasingly recognised and valued by society, including their positive impact on the water environment. As well as protecting aquatic habitats and species, they preserve the quality of drinking water, alleviate flooding, and guard against erosion, landslides and the loss of soil.

“Unless specific care is taken, forest operations can result in soil and vegetation disturbance that can very quickly reverse all of those positives and result in damage that is economically and environmentally costly," he warned.

“It is vital that we adhere to good practice and manage our forests, woodlands and trees sustainably to protect these environmental goods and services.”

The new Practice Guide is applicable both to large and small-scale forest operations and will ensure that land managers, no matter the specifics of their own forest operations, will be able to take the necessary steps to protect the water environment.

The guide emphasises the importance of planning, the use of buffer zones, and sets out good practice for eight key forest operations – cultivation; drainage; fertiliser application; use of pesticides; roads and quarries; harvesting; vehicle and machine maintenance; and contingencies, then describes monitoring activities.

The guide is supported by a separate illustrated 'cab card' for operators that summarises dos and don’ts for each of these operations.

For order information or to view and download PDF versions of the guide (stock code FCPG025) and cab card (FCPG025c), go to