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Report reveals how much timber there is in Britain’s forests

Britain’s forests contain an estimated 336 million cubic metres of coniferous timber, according to a report just published by the Forestry Commission.

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How much timber is there in Britain's forests?

Coniferous timber is timber produced by conifer trees such as pine, spruce, larch and fir species, and is also known as ‘softwood’. The ‘Great Britain 2011 Standing Coniferous Timber Volume’ report, which contains important information for planning a range of forest-related developments, reveals that:

  • publicly owned forests managed by the Forestry Commission contain just more than one-third of the timber, at 125 million cubic metres;
  • forests in private and other forms of ownership contain about 211 million cubic metres;
  • Scotland has by far the largest volume of standing coniferous timber, with 212 million cubic metres, followed by England with 87 million cu.m. and Wales with 37 million cu.m;
  • Sitka spruce trees account for slightly more than half of all the coniferous timber, at 170 million cubic metres in Britain overall;
  • the next greatest volume of coniferous timber overall is accounted for by Scots pine, of which there are 51 million cu.m; and
  • there is more timber growing in Britain than was indicated by previous assessments based on the 1979-82 Census of Woodland and the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA).

Peter Weston, Head of Inventory and Forecasting at the Forestry Commission, said,

“It is pleasing to build on the woodland area reports and maps which we published in 2011 with these robust, new estimates of coniferous standing volume. Knowing what we have on the ground now is an essential part of planning across a range of interests, including industry development, biodiversity and climate change.

“Further reports to be published later this year will explore the implications of these figures with particular reference to potential timber availability and carbon sequestration.”

The report can be downloaded from the National Forest Inventory pages of the Forestry Commission website at www.forestry.gov.uk/inventory, where there is also a Questions and Answers document with more-detailed explanation and interpretation.

The website also contains a preliminary estimate of the standing volume of broadleaved, or ‘hardwood’, timber in Britain, of 234 million cubic metres. Further surveying and sampling of broadleaved timber volume is planned, and a final report will be published in 2013.

Further general information is available from Ben Ditchburn, ben.ditchburn@forestry.gsi.gov.uk, and statistical information from Alan Brewer, alan.brewer@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

 

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