Business Plan 2013/2014

Business Plan
Cover photograph: Woodburn Forest, County Antrim
Business Plan 2013/2014
Business Plan
Vision and Aims
Corporate Governance
Organisation and Resources
Strategic Context
Executive Programme for Government
Operating environment
Scope for forest expansion
Managing forests sustainably
Social forestry
Targets and Objectives
Business Priorities for 2013/14
Forest Service Budgets
Monitoring and Reporting
Appendix 1: Forest Service Standards
Area Performance Standards
Customer Service standards
Financial control standards
Appendix 2: Agency Organisational Senior Structure
Appendix 3: Agency Offices
Business Plan 2013/2014
Business Plan 2013/2014
By the Chief Executive
This Business Plan sets out our strategic objectives and associated
targets for the 2013/14 business year. This is a challenging
programme of work that will facilitate delivery of the Minister’s
policy aims for forestry and her objective that the Forest service
Headquarters moves to Fermanagh as quickly as possible.
We will continue to promote forest expansion by providing
financial support from EU and national funds and by providing
advice to forest owners.
We will also continue to manage forests sustainably by working
closely with private forest owners as their timber felling activities
fall within the scope of the Forestry Act, by supporting the
Department in actions to control and eradicate scheduled tree
diseases, and by managing the forests in our care to produce timber, to earn an income, to
protect the environment and to protect forests from fire, and to promote and encourage the
enjoyment and recreational use of forests.
We will continue the good progress made in developing and supporting partnership
arrangements with both public and private sector operators to derive the best possible benefit
from forests, and we will continue to strive to ensure that these benefits are delivered in a
sustainable way.
As we start 2013/14 with a harsh spring the year promises to be a challenging one for the
Agency, but one in which I hope we will make real progress.
Malcolm Beatty
Chief Executive
Business Plan 2013/2014
Business Plan 2013/2014
In the main, forestry functions are delivered by the Forest Service on behalf of the Department.
The Forest Service became an Executive Agency within the Department of Agriculture and
Rural Development on 1 April 1998. The Agency is subject to the overall direction of the
Minister, who determines the policy framework within which the Agency operates, the level of
resources made available each year, and the scope of Agency activities. The Minister approves
the Business Plan, sets the key performance targets and monitors the Agency’s performance.
Vision and Aims
The Minister has affirmed that the policy vision remains that there should be a steady
expansion of tree cover to increase the many diverse benefits that forests provide, and that
woods and forests would be sustainably managed. The aim over the next 50 years is to increase
the area of forest from the current 8% to 12% of land area by planting trees on 50,000ha of
agricultural land, and to manage forests to provide a wide range of public and private benefits.
The Forestry Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 requires the Department to promote afforestation
and sustainable forestry, so as to encourage public enjoyment and recreational use of its own
forests and to promote the social benefits of other forests. The Act defines “forestry” to include
the production and supply of timber and other forest products, the maintenance of adequate
reserves of growing trees, and the management and development of forests so as to contribute
to the protection of the environment, biodiversity and the mitigation of, or adaptation to,
climate change. The key tasks are:
1. To promote forest expansion by private landowners and public bodies through advice and
grant aid;
2. To provide a regulatory framework and administrative process to support the achievement
of policy objectives;
3. To maintain the knowledge base needed to inform forestry development; and
4. To manage the Department’s forests so as to:
• Supply timber and to regenerate the areas harvested, by monitoring forest productivity,
by planning harvests, by negotiating sale of forest products, and by investment to
improve access and restock forests;
• Provide public access for recreation, by maintaining and improving facilities and visitor
services, increasingly through partnership arrangements with other public authorities,
commercial providers, or groups of recreational users;
• Regenerate them after damage caused by fire and disease, to protect them, to improve
their environmental value by monitoring condition, and planning changes in forest
structure in consultation with stakeholders;
• Verify sustainable management performance through a process of independent audit
against the UK Woodland Assurance Standard; and
• Release land from forestry where a better use exists.
Business Plan 2013/2014
Corporate Governance
The Chief Executive is responsible to the Minister for the Agency’s operations and
performance, and is the Agency Accounting Officer. The Chief Executive is advised by a
Management Board comprising four Executive Directors and a Non-Executive Director, who is
also a Senior Civil Servant working in another part of the Department.
The Chief Executive is also advised by a Corporate Governance and Audit Committee,
established as a sub-Committee of the Board, about business risks, internal control and
governance of the Agency. The Committee is chaired by a member of the Senior Civil Service
from the Department for Regional Development and has two additional members, one of
whom is a member of the Agency’s Board.
We have a responsibility to ensure that robust procedures are in place to provide for
continuity of service in the event of a civil emergency. Our business continuity plan sets out
the controls in place and we review the plan regularly to ensure that it provides the necessary
assurance that the controls remain effective.
Organisation and Resources
The Minister has allocated the Agency £8.7m in 2013/14 for running costs, staff salaries and
wages. An additional £4 million has been allocated over two years to improve the NI tourist
product by upgrading caravan sites (and other facilities) within our forest parks to international
5-star standard.
The Agency has 218 staff located at the Agency’s headquarters in Belfast, in three main offices
at Enniskillen, Castlewellan and Garvagh, and in forests.
Forest Service has set a range of standards relating to how we deal with customer
correspondence and complaints. These standards are at Appendix 1.
Details of the current organisational structure and main office locations can be found in
Appendices 2 and 3. We regularly review structures, staffing
levels and business processes in order to deliver our business
in the most efficient and effective way.
In line with wider NICS objectives, the Agency will seek to
achieve a reduced level of staff absenteeism and specific
targets are included in this Business Plan. Specific action
to meet our absenteeism targets will include the strict
application of the absence management procedures, action
on the prevention and investigation of industrial accidents and
management reviews of absenteeism.
Business Plan 2013/2014
Strategic Context
Executive Programme for Government
During the 2010/11 business year we published a Delivery Plan (Forest Service, 2011)
outlining how we intended to deliver our duties under the new Forestry Act and listed 44
actions to be taken. The highest priority requirements follow from the Executive Programme
for Government (PfG) for the period to 2014/15. Forestry has scope to support achievement of:
• Executive Priority 1: “Growing a Sustainable Economy and Investing in the Future” by
promoting forest expansion, by supplying timber for manufacturing and export, and
for wood fuel; by providing access to forests to support tourism development; and by
exploiting the strategic location of forests as sites for wind-energy;
• Executive Priority 3: “Protecting Our People, the Environment and Creating Safer
Communities” by the way we look after forests to protect biodiversity through careful
planning and execution of operations in our own woods, and enforcing legislation to
curb anti-social behaviour affecting forests;
• Executive Priority 4: “Building a Strong and Shared Community” by improving access
for community development, and using forests as vehicles for “encouraging active
citizenship … unlocking the potential of the culture, arts and leisure sectors … greater
involvement in sporting and pastoral activities …”; and
• Executive Priority 5: “Delivering High Quality and Efficient Public Services” by
continuing to focus on service quality and costs.
These priorities are reflected in the Department’s strategic goal to help deliver improved
sustainable environmental outcomes and Agency targets to support forestry projects by
planning to incur expenditure of at least £1.951m from National and EU funds, to create
at least 250ha of new woodland, and to earn an income of
£7.95 million from forest resources. It is also reflected in
the Departmental goal to manage our business and deliver
services to our customers in a cost-effective way. Through
careful management of our costs and maximisation of revenue
generated from the Forestry Estate the public subsidy of the
agency has been substantially reduced in recent years, but this
also meant that expenditure on important assets has been less
than is desirable if we are to meet public expectations and
support a forest based tourist economy. Although the Agency
will strive to maintain the subsidy at the lowest possible cost
it will continue to seek out opportunities for investment to
improve and extend the life of assets in line with the Executive
Business Plan 2013/2014
policy on care for the historic estate (NIEA, 2012), and to engage partners in delivering
recreation and other services.
The Agency shares in the Department’s target to meet the combined industrial and nonindustrial Departmental absenteeism target of 7.8 working days lost per Whole Time
Equivalent. Forest Service combined absence target for 2013/14 has been set at 8.2 working
days lost per Whole Time Equivalent.
During 2012 the Minister announced that the Forest Service should move its headquarters to
Fermanagh. We will develop plans to achieve this aim during 2013/14.
This plan also contains supporting targets to provide greater clarity about how the key targets
are to be achieved, and to prepare the ground for progress in future years.
Operating environment
Scope for forest expansion
It is now clear that farmers’ responses to the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) are the
main factor determining the rate and type of forestry expansion and, until the way is clear
on the current CAP Reform proposals, it is unlikely that the supply of land for new planting
will increase much on previous years. However, stakeholders have told us that one major
obstacle to increased forest expansion is that the support available for large scale planting
is too low, and we are concerned that recent outbreaks of tree diseases may have further
reduced stakeholder confidence in forestry. Therefore, subject to obtaining EU approval for
a modification to the NI Rural Development Plan, we will test this proposition by inviting
competitive bids for large scale planting, known as a Forestry
Challenge Scheme, within the existing Rural Development
Rules. We will also continue to support the Department
in developing proposals for the next Rural Development
Managing forests sustainably
Forestry land is used for growing timber, for protection and
enhancement of the environment, and for social uses. It
also has strong potential for development of wind-farms,
subject to planning approval, grid connection, agreement on
community benefits and securing financial backing; during
Business Plan 2013/2014
2013-14 we will work closely with the Strategic Investment Board to develop plans to exploit
the best opportunities for wind-farm development on forestry land consistent with our forestry
One of our principal obligations is that all forests should be managed in a sustainable manner.
The Forestry Act made provision to regulate tree felling and forest regeneration and, subject to
Assembly approval, we will implement the draft regulations to control tree felling during the
first part of the year.
In relation to the Department’s forests the Forest Service holds a certificate of sustainable forest
management against the independently audited UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS).
This is a considerable strength and means, broadly, that forest management complies with all
legal obligations and is committed to a rigorous planning process that pays proper attention to
the design of forests at all stages of development. Forest Service ensures that forest operations
comply with the plans and follow good practice; that forests are properly protected and
maintained and that conservation and enhancement of biodiversity are given significant
consideration. The Agency encourages community participation and supports community
access. The Department is an “Investor in People” employer and we respect the rights of our
staff and provide all training and equipment as necessary.
A consequence of retaining the UKWAS certification is that our timber finds a ready market
throughout Ireland. The income generated by timber sales is our main source of income. This
offsets most of the annual costs of looking after our forests including the costs of improving
the forest environment and providing public access. Timber from our forests is processed
locally to add value, to supply timber and energy markets, and to create employment. During
2013/14, we will continue the work begun last year on a woodland inventory to facilitate
an assessment of the productive potential of our forests, and we will open discussions with
our major customers about the best way to manage timber supplies in the light of medium
term availability (the next 3 to 5 years) and the longer term
decline in supply after 2030.
Social forestry
Most of our properties are accessible to the public, are
heavily used for walking and cycling, and some forests
occupy strategically important positions within tourist
destination areas. Last year we implemented the provisions
of the Forestry Act to create a “Public Right of Pedestrian
Access” to most forestry lands. We also completed a report
in conjunction with Northern Ireland Tourist Board on the
potential for tourism development (KPMG, 2013) and we
Business Plan 2013/2014
were allocated £4 million over the financial years 2013-14 and 2014-15, for projects to
improve tourism facilities in our forests, under the Executive’s Economy and Jobs Initiative.
We intend to deliver these projects by working with local councils and other organisations, to
strengthen our partnership working arrangements.
We will continue to involve communities in the decisions affecting local forests. We recognise
that this is a difficult matter for communities as much of our work is very technical and not
accessible to most people. We have learnt, from previous consultations, that most people
seek reassurance that forests will be speedily replaced after harvesting, that harvesting should
be infrequent and small scale where they are heavily used for public access, and that the
disruption and damage to minor public roads is a considerable annoyance to those living in
forested areas. We will continue to work closely with Roads Service to find ways to mitigate
the problems. We will also continue to work closely with District Councils where we become
aware of problems with fly-tipping, and to improve social use of forests.
Targets and Objectives
The Minister has set key targets for the Agency. The business priorities, actions key and
supporting targets are shown in Table 1. Table 2 shows the net budget allocated to the Agency
to deliver the work programme.
The plan assumes that the Department will continue to provide support services,
accommodation and IT, as set out in the Agency’s Framework document, and that these will
continue to be charged on a notional basis.
Business Plan 2013/2014
Business Priorities for 2013/14
Within the context of implementing our strategic aims, we have agreed a number of business
priorities for this business year. These are to:
• Encourage forest expansion;
• Manage forests to produce an income and to protect forest environments;
• Demonstrate that forests are managed sustainably through an external audit of our
• Collect and analyse data about the condition and use of forests;
• Continue to seek partnership working to deliver recreation and visitor services
consistent with our Recreation and Social Use Strategy and to utilise additional £2m
provided under the Jobs and the Economy Initiative; and
• Manage our business and deliver services to our customers in a cost-effective way.
• Develop plans to move Forest Service Headquarters to Fermanagh.
• Develop plans to exploit the best opportunities for wind farm development on Forestry
To achieve this, the Business Plan sets a number of priorities, actions, key and supporting
targets or milestones. These are set out in the next section.
Manage forests to produce
an income and to protect
forest environments
To establish baseline data and publish design plans for the
2013/14 planning review areas to improve forest resilience;
Implement plans to harvest trees and restore forests after
harvesting, fire and disease; and
Put in place resources and develop plans to exploit the best
opportunities for wind farm development on Forestry Land
Plan the development of forests to sustain timber
production, maintain environmental quality, and support
recreational use;
Consider how the forestry elements of the draft Rural
Development Regulation can best be applied to our
Identify and market mature plantations;
Explain the need for different types of forest, publicise the
opportunities for woodland expansion, explore ways to
overcome barriers to uptake; and
Offer grants for woodland creation;
By 31 March 2014 we will
During 2013/14 we will:
E) Cut 100 ha of Rhododendron and laurel in high risk
D) Share baseline information with Stakeholders.
C) Complete the Habitat Regulations Assessments for the
Lough Melvin and Foyle Special Areas of Conservation.
Complete planning reviews for two forest areas, West
Tyrone and North West planning areas.
B) Maintain the annual supply of wood for industrial
processing at a minimum of 400,000 m3.
Supporting targets
3) Obtain income of at least £7.95 million from forest
Key target
target of 250 hectares.
A. Design and operate a pilot scheme for the creation of up
to 100 hectares of new woodland in addition to the key
Supporting targets
2) Plan to incur expenditure of at least £1.951m on forestry
1) Create at least 250 hectares of new woodland.
Key target
Key or asupporting Target or milestones:
Table 1
Encourage forest expansion
Business priorities
Business Plan 2013/2014
Key Strategic Objectives and Targets
Collect and analyse data
about the condition and
use of forests
Demonstrate that forests
are managed sustainably
H) Develop processes to enable the issuing of felling licences
from 1 July 2013.
Implement the revised process of community engagement
with forestry planning and activity in collaboration with
partners in the south of Ireland;
To incorporate felling licences within Environmental
Regulation branch and support the implementation in NI of
the EU Timber Regulation and support the implementation
of new UK Timber Regulations regime.
M) Publish a NI Woodland Base map.
Refine the woodland register.
L) Implement requirements set out in monitoring plan for
ancient woodland sites.
Undertake an assessment of threats to biodiversity in
ancient woodland in our forests; and
J) To project manage the development and integration of
Forest Service GIS with DARD Corporate GIS.
Develop the capability and use of our Geographic
Information System (GIS) including integration with the
DARD Corporate GIS Programme.
K) Continue to develop forest data management procedures
to support Forest Plans.
I) Complete the 2013/14 Measurement Programme and
incorporate the results in the Annual Report.
Continue to develop forest inventory and production
Supporting targets
G) Test revised approach to community engagement in North
West and West Tyrone planning areas; and
Comply with the requirements of the UK Woodland
Assurance Standard and subject this to an external audit;
F) Maintain Sustainable Forest Management certification for
our forests.
Supporting targets
Business Plan 2013/2014
Manage our business
and deliver services
to our customers in
a cost-effective way
Seek partnership
working to deliver
recreation and
visitor services
consistent with our
Recreation and
Social Use Strategy
O) Publish the application process to facilitate public
use of our forests.
Continue to facilitate local government and other partner bodies
to include forests in delivery of their recreation and tourism
Develop and operate a forestry funding scheme to support the Jobs
and Economy Initiative.
S) To improve our process for capturing visitor data
and occupancy rates.
T) Reduce the Agency average annual days sick
absence per employee to 8.2 days.
V) To review records management and provide
W) To put a relocation plan in place by Dec 2013.
To collate data on visitor figures to the forests and occupancy of
the forest parks.
Implement the Departments absence management system;
Facilitate recruitment, promotion and training of professional,
technical, administrative and industrial staff
Develop technical, operational support and estate management
staff to optimise use of GIS;
Improve effectiveness of the Corporate Records Management
process; and
To plan for HQ relocation by the summer of 2014,
U) Develop, review and submit the training plan to
training providers.
R) Review timber security and provide
Examine technological developments in liaison with Coillte for
improving timber security;
Supporting targets
forestry funding scheme.
Q) To deliver the 2013/14 milestones set out under the
P) Have new facilities in place in at least 3 forests as
a result of our partnership arrangements with Local
Government; and
N) Establish management arrangements and issue draft
agreements for World Police and Fire Games by 1
June 2013.
Support the 2013 World Police and Fire Games by permitting
infrastructure development and use of forests under licence;
Supporting targets
Business Plan 2013/2014
Business Plan 2013/2014
Forest Service Budgets 2013-14
Table 2
Recurrent Capital: Plant, Vehicles, Machinery & Roads
Current – Other
NIRDP Axis 2 Forest Resource Grant National
Receipts: Current
Improving Forest Infrastructure under the Jobs and
Economy Initiative
NIRDP Axis 2 Forest Expansion Woodland Grant Scheme
Forest Service Timber Revaluation
Forest Service – Movement in Provision
DEL = 4 year Departmental Expenditure Limits as per the 2010 Comprehensive
Spending Review.
AME = Annually Managed Expenditure.
Business Plan 2013/2014
Monitoring and Reporting
The Forest Service Management Board will monitor performance against the key targets. If
it appears that the achievement of key targets may be at risk due to factors outside of the
Agency’s control, the Chief Executive will consult with the Department and the Minister about
options for remedial action. In these or other circumstances, it may be necessary to review
the Business Plan during the year and make changes in policies, resources or priorities. The
Business Plan is subject to formal in-year and year-end reviews by the Permanent Secretary
and the Department’s Fraser Figure, in discussion with the Agency’s Board.
Following the end of the financial year the Chief Executive will publish an Annual Report and
Accounts. The Report will review the Agency’s activities during the year and will comment
specifically on its performance against the key targets set by the Minister.
Business Plan 2013/2014
Appendix 1
Forest Service Standards
Area Performance Standards
Customer Service standards
Respond to 90% of written correspondence within 10 working days.
Acknowledge all written complaints within 3 working days of receipt and provide a full
response to 90% of written and verbal complaints within 15 working days of receipt.
Financial control standards
Achieve a financial outturn that is within resource limits in line with the Department’s targets
that the Provisional Capital and Resource Outturns should be between 98% and 100% of the
Final Budget.
Business Plan 2013/2014
Appendix 2
Agency Organisational Senior Structure
Malcolm Beatty
Chief Executive
John Joe O’Boyle
Director of Forestry
Responsible for:
Forest development, marketing,
property management,
delivery of services
Iann Irwin
Director of Forest Management
Responsible for:
Management of State forests
and forestry operations
Pauline Keegan
Non-Executive Director
Stuart Morwood
Director of Woodland Development
and Strategies
Responsible for:
policy development, forest practice
standards, private woodlands, plant health control,
IT services, technical and geographical
services and statistics
Marcus McAuley
Corporate Services
Corporate Services, Accounting and
Finance, Legislation and HQ relocation
Business Plan 2013/2014
Appendix 3
Agency Offices
Customer Services Manager
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
Phone: 028 90524480
Fax: 028 90524570
e-mail to: [email protected]
The Grange
Castlewellan Forest Park
BT31 9BU
Phone: 028 43772240
028 43771762
Fax: Inishkeen House
BT74 4EJ
Phone: 028 66343032
Fax: 028 66324753
Forest Office
6 Forest Road
BT51 5EF
028 29556003
Phone: Fax: 028 29557162
Appendix 1
Business Plan 2013/2014
Business Plan
Should accessible formats such as large type, audio cassette or a language other
than English be required, please contact the Customer Services Manager at
Forest Service Headquarters and appropriate arrangements will be made as soon
as possible.
Forest Service Headquarters
Dundonald House
Upper Newtownards Road
Tel: 028 9052 4480
Fax: 028 9052 4570
web sites:
[email protected]
FOREST SERVICE 2006. Northern Ireland Forestry: A Strategy for sustainability and growth. In:
DARD (ed.). Belfast.
Forest Service. Forestry Act (Northern Ireland) 2010 Delivery Plan. (2011) Belfast: Department
Agriculture and Rural Development.
KPMG. Assessment of the Existing and Potential Tourism Development Opportunities Available
from Northern Ireland Forests (2013) Belfast: KPMG, in association with Oxford Economics
and Louise Browne Associates.
NIEA. Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate. (2012) Belfast.
FS 3C 06/13 PCOM
ISBN 978-1-84807-397-5
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