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Counting the Wood in the Trees

Tuesday, 22nd September 2009

The Quantification of the Forest report, prepared for the National Forest Company (NFC) by the respected forestry consultants, Eamonn Wall & Company, estimates that the volume of timber produced by the Forest – over 38,000 cubic metres by 2032 - can provide the basis for a thriving and economically sustainable woodland economy.

Clive Keble, Chief Officer, Land & Project Development for the NFC, said: ‘The report shows that the growing woodlands in The National Forest are a massive resource for the area but it is crucial that we encourage woodland management by developing skills and local markets for timber. The NFC sees the development of a local woodland economy as a priority over the next few years and encouraged by the fantastic success of the Wood Fair this year, we see enthusiasm for this from forestry businesses, local communities and the general public.’ 

Good woodland management is needed as the trees grow and mature, particularly to get the best quality timber out of native hardwoods such as oak and ash. This means thinning work over the next 20 - 25 years, as weaker trees are felled to bring others to full maturity, producing a substantial amount of smaller size, lower quality timber. This can be used to provide logs and woodchips which are a good source of renewable energy for heating homes and business premises. The report highlights this potential for an increasing supply of woodfuel.

The use of logs in domestic settings is widespread, but there are currently only five woodfuel systems installations in the Forest heated by automated woodchip boilers.  This is expected to double over the next year but there is scope for many more - the report identifies the potential for this to increase to 75 units by 2032.

By then, timber for other uses – construction, fencing, furniture and crafts - will be available in the Forest as a truly sustainable, local sourced material. This will include a whole range of usable timbers: pine, birch, poplar, willow, ash, cherry, walnut and the first oak harvests from older plantations.

Clive Keble continued: ‘The benefits of good woodland management are that it gives us wood fuel now and quality timber later, as The National Forest lives up to its potential to provide sustainable resources and employment for current and future generations of those who live and work in the Forest.

‘A further benefit is that the woodlands are there for people to enjoy as they grow; management will maximize these benefits and trees that are taken out over time for timber will be replaced with further planting - a truly sustainable cycle of land management.’

Find out more by downloading a copy of the report here