Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has confirmed Sir William Worsley as the new Chair of the Forestry Commission.
Sir William will step down as the government’s Tree Champion, a position he has held since June 2018, when he takes on his new role on 10 February, and will be in post for three years.
Commenting on his appointment, he said: “Trees, woods and forests are so important to us – improving our landscapes, helping capture carbon, improving our general wellbeing and providing a renewable resource in the timber they produce.
“It couldn’t be a more exciting time to join the Forestry Commission. As chair, my aim will be to celebrate, protect and deepen the impact of its excellent work, not only for the sake of our environment but also for the huge benefits that our success brings for society.”
Sir William began his career as a chartered surveyor and for several years worked with the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) as former president and chairman of the board.
He currently holds the posts of chair of the National Forest Company, as well as chairman of the Howardian Hills AONB Joint Advisory Committee. He will be standing down from his role as National Forest Company chair in May to allow for a new chair to be appointed.
Villiers said: “With his great expertise in forestry and passion for nature and trees, Sir William will play a pivotal role in leading the Forestry Commission at a critical time as it moves into its second century.
“Tree planting will play a crucial part in the government’s bold action to combat climate change, and the Forestry Commission has a vital role in delivering our ambitious plans for England’s forests and woodlands.”
Ian Gambles, chief executive officer of Forestry Commission, added: “Sir William’s appointment is great news for the Forestry Commission and the wider forestry sector. He is one of the UK’s most engaged environmental champions for forestry.
“I am confident that Sir William will bring the expertise and vision required to set a bold direction for the country’s forests and woodlands and I look forward to working closely with him.”
The announcement comes as Sir Harry Studholme’s time as Forestry Commission Chair ends after seven years in post.
Once Sir Harry’s term ends, he will be working on a range of projects in alternative energy, carbon capture and climate change mitigation as well as managing his own forestry and farming interests in Devon.
“I want to thank Sir Harry for his dedication in leading the organisation for the past seven years and wish him all the best in future endeavours,” said Villiers.