SIR William Worsley has been confirmed as the new chair of the Forestry Commission.

The announcement comes as Sir Harry Studholme’s time as the Forestry Commission chair ends after seven years in post.

Sir William will step down as the government’s Tree Champion, having held the position since June 2018, when he takes on his new role on 10 February. He will be in post for three years.

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 reappointed.

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, who confirmed Sir William’s appointment, 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.”

Commenting on his appointment, Sir William 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.”

His appointment has been welcomed by industry body Confor. Stuart Goodall, chief executive, commented: "I have known Sir William for many years and served with him on the Independent Panel that was established under Bishop James Jones to advise the UK Government. Sir William has long experience in both managing forestry as part of his estate and in working with ministers.”

He added: “This is an exciting time for forestry in England with considerable political interest in driving up tree planting as well as managing more woodland and using more home-grown wood as part of the fight against climate change. I look forward to working with Sir William on these and other important matters.”

Confor’s national manager for England, Caroline Ayre, added: “On behalf of Confor, I would like to thank Sir Harry for the expertise and advocacy he has brought to the sector. He will be missed by many.”