Countryside Matters 2014 - page 36-37

Countryside
Matters
34
Countryside
Matters
35
TOMORROW’S TIMBER
TOMORROW’S TIMBER
The information is a vital key to the health of the rural economy. Take for
example,theSouthWestwherethere isa largevolumeoftimberpredictedtogo
tomarket.This isanareawhichcurrentlydoesn’thaveacommensurateamount
of sawmill orutilisation industry tomakeuseof the timberwhichwill begoing
tomarket.Tosquarethecircleofsupplyandprocessingcapacityrequiresupto
dateandreliabledata.
Ourlatestforecastforsoftwoodavailabilityismuchmoreaccuratethanprevious
versionsas it comesoff thebackofaverydetailedsurveyofBritishwoodland
(TheNationalForest Inventory).Theresultshavecausedustomakeasignificant
reappraisaloftheamountoftimberwewillbeproducing intothefuture. Tocall
itaseachange,wouldnotbeanunderstatement.
Ourforecastgivesarangeofeconomicscenarioswhichwillaffecttheharvesting
of timber but from themost optimistic forecast to themost pessimistic, the
volumeoftimberproduction issettorisedramatically. Thissurge inproduction
canbedirectlyattributed to theboom inplantingafter theSecondWorldWar
andthefactthatthosetreeswillbecomingtomaturityoverthenext25years.
Theforecastisattheheartofthedecisionmakingprocessforthoseinthetimber
industryandthelatestdatahascreatedagreatdealofinterest.Previousforecasts
havesometimesbeenatoddswithwhatwashappening inthecommercialworld
whichcreateduncertaintyandspeculationoverpotential futureproduction.
Itwas this uncertaintywhichdroveus to create this detailed, evidencebased
reportwhich shows categorically that theareaofwoodland is increasing; it is
greater thanwe thought itwas and that timber production is set to rise. The
projectedyear forpeakproduction is2035whenweare likely tobeproducing
16to18millioncubicmetresofconiferoustimber(comparedto10.5millioncubic
metrestoday).
The Forestry Commission research is helping industry investors by providing
adviceandinformationtounderpintheirbusinesscases.Offthebackofthelatest
figures, therearesignificantbusinessdecisionsbeingmadearound investment
insawmilling,energyproductionandpaperproduction.
TheprocessofcreatingtheNationalForest
Inventory isapainstakingone. Weusesatellite
imageryandaerialphotographytomapthe
locationsofwoodlandsoverhalfahectare;
creatingageographicdatabase.Fromthiswe
knowthattherearearound3millionhectares
ofwoodland inBritain.
Thenwetrytoestablishwhatkindofwoodlandwehavebytakingasampleofaround0.5%ofwoodlandby
area.Wecreateagridacrossthecountryandwherethatgrid intersectswithwoodlandwetakewhatwecalla
stratifiedrandomsampleandselectsamplesquares forourfieldteamstoanalyse further–atotalofaround
15,000acrossBritain.
Eachofthese100mby100msamplesquares ismeasured intensively. Ittakesasurveyoronetothreedays
tomapthe landscape includingponds,buildings, roadsandanythingelsewhichtakesaway fromthetotal
woodlandarea.Theaim istocreatea fullpictureofthewoodlandand itscharacter.
Withinthesamplesquaresweget intoevenmoredetail in furthersubsetsofcircularsampleplots (5.6m
radius). Intheseareaswemapeverytreewefind,noting itsspecies, itsdiameteratbreastheightand, in
somecases, itsheight.
Wetakethisdataandusemathsandmodellingtoworkoutthetimbervolumeofthetreesandthenumber
oftreesperhectareandextrapolateuptoanationalpicture.
Measuringtheheightandsizeofthetreesallowsustoestimatetheirageandgrowthrate. It’sthisdatawe
usetopredicthowmuchtheywillcontinuetogrowbearing inmindtheconditionsonthesite.
Wealsohavetoestimatewhenwethinkthetimberwillcometomarketwhich iswherethehumanelement
enterstheequation.Weworkthrougharangeofscenarioswiththetimberprocessing industryand forest
owners,askingthemwhentheythinkcropswill reachtheoptimal time forharvesting.
Weconsiderarangeofeconomicscenarioswhichcould impactonthedecisiontoharvest–whethertimber
demand isupordown; thehealthoftheconstruction industry,etc. Wepublishthedifferingprojectionsas
partofthe forecastgivingascompleteapictureaspossibleoftheyearsahead.
How the forest inventory
and forecast isproduced
Percentageofwoodlandareacoverbynation
Worldaverage...
Excluding
Russia
13%
73%
29%
31% 32%
Including
Russia
37% 45%
Aerialphotography
isusedtomapall
woodlandsoverhalf
ahectare
1...,16-17,18-19,20-21,22-23,24-25,26-27,28-29,30-31,32-33,34-35 38-39,40-41,42-43,44-45,46-47,48-49,50-51,52-53,54,...55
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