The Government has promised not to sell the public forest estate after an expert panel called for the 285,000 hectares of woodland to remain in public ownership.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, who was forced into a U-turn after a controversial bid to privatise England's forests sparked public outrage, has pledged they will "stay in public hands".
The vow comes after a report by the Independent Panel on Forestry , which was set up following mass criticism of a public consultation on a sell-off.
It insisted the estate should remain in public ownership as land held in trust for the nation and that the Government needs to value woodlands for all the benefits they provide.
The panel said the public forest estate should be managed by a new organisation evolved from Forest Enterprise England, currently part of the Forestry Commission , in future.
It recommended that it has a statutory purpose to "sustain and build the social, natural and economic value of the estate for the long term, for the benefit of the nation".
"We propose that the public forest estate should remain in public ownership, and be defined in statute as land held in trust for the nation," the report suggested.
The panel's chairman, Bishop of Liverpool the Rt Rev James Jones, said: "There is untapped potential within England's woodlands to create jobs, to sustain skills and livelihoods, to improve the health and well-being of people and to provide better and more connected places for nature.
"Government investment is now needed to kick start these changes which will repay itself many times over in terms of public benefit."
Mrs Spelman said in response: "Our forests will stay in public hands. We will not sell the public forest estate. We'll be talking to all those who are passionate about our forests to decide how we will manage our forests for the future."
The Environment Department (Defra) also confirmed that the planned sale of 15% of the public forest estate, the most that can be sold off under existing legislation, would not go ahead.
The sale to raise up to £100m had been put on hold while the panel conducted its inquiry.
The panel said the public forest estate cost around £20m a year to the taxpayer - around 90p per household in England - but paid back an estimated £400m in benefits to people, nature and the economy.
The estimate does not include the intangible benefits forests provide such as connecting people with nature and preserving historic customs.
The panel called on the Government to improve and expand public woods so that as many people as possible have access to them.
Woodland cover should be expanded from current levels of 10% of England's land area to 15% by 2060 and the amount managed to a good standard increased from 50% to 80% over the next 10 years.
The panel suggested that investment in spin-off businesses such as saw mills and furniture producers, through targeted support by the Government, could create up to 7,000 jobs in rural areas and improve management of woodlands.
Mrs Spelman was forced to abandon the plans to sell-off England's forests last year and faced jeers in the Commons when she admitted "we got this wrong".
The proposals had aimed to sell woods to businesses and give others to charities to run. There were even proposals to sell some to communities who enjoy them for free.
Hundreds of thousands of people united against the project, which would have raised £250m, and more than 500,000 people signed an online petition against the move.
Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: "This report marks a new beginning for England's forests. Our forests are a much-loved part our national natural heritage, and will play a pivotal role in the green economy and our low carbon future."
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