Call made for increased production of timber

SCOTLAND is well-placed to increase its production of timber – according to the public sector organisation tasked with managing forests in the country.

In a media release issued on behalf of Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), it is noted how the UK is reckoned to be just 33 per cent self-sufficient in timber and how, over the last 100 years, forest and woodland cover in Scotland has increased from around five per cent to 18.5 per cent – higher than the rest of the UK but below the European Union average of 38 per cent.

The release adds that, while the UK is considered to be largely self-sufficient in timber used for fencing, “there is significant, unmet domestic demand for more structural timber and also pallet wood”.

Says the Scottish Government’s ‘Forestry Strategy 2019-2029’ (here): “Scotland’s forest and woodland area now covers more than 1.4 million hectares (ha), one third of which is owned by Scottish Ministers, on behalf of the nation, as part of the National Forest Estate. Over 975 000 ha is privately or community-owned.”

This year, FLS is planting 25 million trees. Over the last five years, Forestry & Land Scotland has planted approximately 3,282 ha of new forest; average per year 656 ha. The approximate split is 70 per cent broadleaf, 30 per cent conifer.

The release quotes Mick Bottomley, head of marketing and sales at FLS, as saying: “Transport and energy costs will increase; emerging economies around the world will demand more timber and timber-producing countries may be required to use more of their own timber at home as they seek to meet stricter climate protocols and net-zero targets.

“Sweden is recording the lowest stock levels in 20 years and this trend is likely to be further exacerbated as current issues like wildfires, tree diseases and pests, exert additional worldwide pressures on the supply of timber.

“The UK can attempt to compete for diminishing supplies on the world market against growing economies such as China and India or do something to mitigate its exposure to these forces, by planting more commercial forestry now so that we are more self-sufficient in the future.”

Picture credit: Forestry and Land Scotland