Public Sector: Forestry body seeks agencies

Forestry Commission issues overarching briefs as part of shake-up.

The Forestry Commission is on the hunt for agency help as part of a landmark rethink of its comms work.

The organisation is looking to bring in agencies to handle PR for the whole of England in a brief worth £750,000 overall.

The agencies will be brought on board to represent six newly designated regions.

As part of a major shift, the briefs will include promoting the commission's forest spaces and engaging private landowners and stakeholders - work previously kept separate.

Stuart Burgess, a senior press officer at the commission, said: 'We've always had a mix of internal and external PR professionals and have brought in agencies before but we're doing it now across the country as a whole.

'This will mean that for the first time we will be drawing together agency work with the commission's own timber forests and its work with those in the private sector. This will include woodland owners and forest owners, as well as businesses that use timber products.

'It seems to us to be an efficient way of doing it, and it seems to be the right time to make that efficiency saving.'

The move comes after a recent report by an independent panel found that England's national forests should remain in public ownership and represented very good value for money.

The Government had to perform a U-turn in February 2011 when plans to sell off state-owned woodlands and axe the Forestry Commission were met with public anger.

Under the new scheme, the country will be split into the following regions: the South West and West; the South, South East and London; the East and Midlands; central and Midlands; the North and North West; Yorkshire and the North East.

Although the commission, which has only just launched the tender, will be taking on a number of agencies, it is expected one agency may be able to cover more than one region.

The £750,000 sum covers all of the work across all of the sectors for three years.

Burgess added: 'The agencies will need to demonstrate a strong mix of PR and marketing skills within both the geographical and topical areas, such as environmental and conservation work.

'We want to get more people out and enjoying the forest but we also want to work with others to improve woodland and get new woodland planted.'

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