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Professor Peter Freer-Smith

Professor Peter Freer-Smith

Chief Scientist,

Forest Research and Forestry Commission


As Chief Scientist for Forest Research and Forestry Commission, Peter ensures that Forest Research provides the scientific knowledge and expertise required to achieve sustainable forest management. He ensures that advice to policy makers and practitioners is based on good scientific understanding and sound research and contributes to the formulation and implementation of the Forestry Commission’s policies and objectives. Additional responsibilities include Head of Station at Alice Holt Forest near Farnham in Surrey (where he is based) and representing Forest Research on the Forestry Commission Research Management Board.

Peterstudied for his first degree at Stirling University gaining a first class degree in Biological Sciences. His PhD was on the Impacts of Air Pollutants on Trees. Both his PhD and DSc are awarded by the University of Lancaster. Peter did two periods of post-doctoral research at Lancaster before moving to a lecturer’s post at the University of Ulster. He joined the Forestry Commission in 1987. In June 2005 Peter was appointed Honorary Visiting Professor in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton. He was appointed Forestry Commission Chief Scientist in 2009.


  • understand the effects of forests and forestry activities on the environment, increase benefits and reduce adverse impacts
  • conserve and improve the biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage of forests and woodlands
  • increase the competitiveness of Britain’s forest resources
  • protect Britain’s trees from pests, diseases and threats