Storm-damaged trees contribute to Estate’s timber harvest
But the wood will not be going to waste, as the timber from the trees will form part of the estate’s annual sustainable harvest.
John Wilding, the Estates’ Head of Forestry and Environmental Economy, said that damage was largely confined to recently thinned crops in East Devon, close to the sea.
But they are now being harvested by specialist teams and will be part of the timber the Estate would be normally be taking to market.
Mr Wilding, awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to the environment, said: “Each year we harvest thousands of tonnes of trees from our commercial crops. This wood is used locally and regionally in a range of areas, including building, fencing and wood fuel. Wood is a fantastic material for many reasons, not least because it’s the ultimate renewable resource.
“This year many trees across the UK were affected by the storms which hit the country, particularly in February. The high winds we encountered came on top of one of the wettest winters on record, which resulted in trees’ root systems not being as well supported as they would otherwise be.
“Climate change predictions are for more severe and less predictable weather patterns, and the number of trees coming down, as highlighted recently by the National Trust, is one of the consequences of this. It’s something everyone will have to get used to, and we’re committed to preparing for the challenges which lie ahead.”
Each year, the estate harvests around 20,000 tonnes of Forest Stewardship Council certified timber from its managed forests, and the amount felled in the storms in East Devon is about a quarter of this annual output. Harvesting teams have switched from programmed work to clearing windblown trees and will be concentrating on this for the next two months.
John said: “There is a healthy and expanding market for home-grown timber. It is now being recognised once again as a major building material, not only for its properties of strength and versatility, but also because it is so sustainable.
“Campaigns such as Wood For Good and now Grown In Britain are highlighting some of these benefits: wood is the only mainstream 100 per cent renewable building material, has the best thermal insulation properties of any mainstream construction material, and timber from sustainably managed forests can actually be better than carbon neutral.”