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Due to the growth of new markets for timber in recent years, landowners are looking at their modest-sized blocks of woodland in a new light. Small broad-leaf woods in particular (2 hectares or more) that benefit from good access and a good standing crop, can make clear-felling an attractive option. Working together with neighbouring landowners and increasing the amount of available timber from a number of small woodland sites will increase the viability of any felling operations. Provided that there is suitable access for both the harvesting machinery and the timber wagons, then extraction will start to become worthwhile on even the smaller farms and estate.
Future growth is still forecast for Britain’s timber market despite an increase in private sector output, softwood in particular, over the last 5 years. Britain is the world’s third-largest timber importer after China and Japan and it is estimated that 1m tonnes of wood fuel are required each year to keep up with demand following the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive in 2011.
Although prices have appeared to level out, or even slightly dip in recent months, the market remains firm. Landowners can expect to achieve around £50 per tonne for firewood-quality hardwood at roadside. Softwood destined for the woodchip market will achieve in the region of £30 per tonne at roadside. Better quality softwood lengths demand a higher price per tonne when sold as pallet logs and saw logs to the sawmills.
Before any felling operations can begin, a felling licence must be obtained from the Forestry Commission. When clear-felling is planned any licence will be conditional upon total restocking which should be factored in when determining the final income from the timber sales. It is important to note that timber sales are tax free.
A woodland management plan will set out the inventory and plan of operations with further information relating to the felling and restocking plus the necessary felling licences. Grant funding is available to produce a UK Forestry Standard compliant woodland management plan through the Countryside Stewardship grant scheme.
For further information on woodland management please contact: Edward Staveley tel: 01748 829210