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UK Forest Market Report - timber and forestry prices on the increase

UK Forest Market Report – timber and forestry prices on the increase

by Angus ~ 30 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Timber prices last year went up 28%.  This is according to the report that John Clegg and Tilhill forestry put together for the year ending September 2018.  The increase was driven by exchange rate changes and increases in demand for traditional wood-using industries such as sawmilling, board production and biomass for renewable energy.  "Virgin wood burnt as biomass accounts for four million tonnes a year now," according to Tilhill's Peter Whitfield.
The industry has also been helped by the improvement in timber processing plants such as Norbord in Inverness, James Jones in Lockerbie and British Soft Woods (BSW) at Fort William.  A single investment of £95 million by Norbord in 2017 was equivalent to twice the usual annual investment in timber processing plant.

The Tilhill/Clegg report also shows how demand has driven up land prices so that even for large woodlands (over 50 acres) in Wales the average selling price is almost £5,000 per acre.  Looking at the mixed woodlands market more generally on average these sell for 10% above the guide price and the big factors which push up values are Read more...

"Carbon Weevils", a Woodland owner's film about carbon emissions by Tim Britton

“Carbon Weevils”, a Woodland owner’s film about carbon emissions by Tim Britton

by Angus ~ 3 November, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Tim Britton is the owner of a small woodland where he tries to promote species diversity through what he calls "low key management".  He's created a wildflower meadow, manages several small ponds and keeps a handful of Jacobs sheep.  Tim pursues a lifestyle which is as low-carbon as possible and he heats his house with a wood-burner, using wood from his woodland.  He also minimises his carbon footprint, like many people, by never flying, growing a lot of his own vegetables and travelling by bike and public transport.  He's also been keeping bees for 35 years.

"We're the only creature on earth that's evolved to sniff out the Carbon deposits, dig them out and convert them at high speed into Carbon Dioxide - so bringing our own distinct geological era"  points out Tim Britton.  His film is a response to behaviour which releases carbon and is creating the emerging environmental catastrophe:  "I'm hoping my film, 'Carbon Weevils', will get people to think of themselves in a different light - by taking a step sideways we can laugh and be slightly embarrassed at the same time.  I think serious stuff wrapped up in humour is a good way to get people thinking - and I hope it's just a small nudge towards changing minds." Read more...

Forest fires in Sweden

Forest fires in Sweden

by Lewis ~ 23 July, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Sweden has a lot of forest and woodland.   In fact, roughly half of the country is covered by trees.  Travelling back some two thousand years, the trees were mainly broadleaved but then oaks and alders began to decline.  However, by the mid twentieth century Spruces and Pines were dominant.  This was mainly due to the process of forestry management, producing wood for fuel, charcoal [used in iron smelting], potash, tar and timber for building.

However, the recent record breaking temperatures and drought across many parts of Europe have put large areas of Swedish forest at risk.   Rainfall in Sweden this year has been dramatically down - approximately a seventh of the normal amount. One has to look back to the C19th century to find similarly low figures.  Read more...

Fires and climate change

Fires and climate change

by Chris ~ 17 July, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The recent hot spell has seen a number of fires, not only in the UK but across the world (Arizona , Victoria Australia, Indonesia).  Spells of extreme heat (and drought) have been known throughout history but it would seem that with climate change / global warming extreme events have become more common.   Data show that the years of the 21st century are among the warmest on record - global air temperatures have risen by 1oC since the industrial revolution.

Extreme temperatures have been recorded in many places across the globe.   Ouargla in Algeria soared to 124.3o F (51.3oC), Denver recorded at temperature of 105o F, Montreal recorded 97.9o F, Glasgow hit 89.4o F, Shannon in Ireland reached 89.6o F, Tbilisi (Georgia) soared to 104.9o F and parts of Pakistan are reported to have reached 50oC.   No record by itself can be ascribed to global warming but these and many other records across the globe are consistent with the extremes that can now be expected (more often) in a world that is warming - as atmospheric greenhouse gas levels increase due to human activity (we have entered the anthropocene).

Hot and dry conditions mean that plant material can dry out quickly, so that a thicker layer of pant material / litter is formed - which provides significant fuel for fires.   Studies of some areas suggest that the increased Winter and Spring rainfall (again associated with climate change) encourages plant growth, creating more material for fires (when dry conditions obtain later in the year). Read more...

The easy way to processing 40 cubic of logs

The easy way to processing 40 cubic of logs

by Matt Marples ~ 23 May, 2018 ~ 3 comments

When I first moved to Sweden, friends from the UK sent me countless books and magazine articles on the culture and tradition of the log stack. How I would become fanatical about length, order and symmetry of my log shed and how by the end of spring I would be  fitter than at any time of the year. Each year the first job of spring time as winter crawls back is to sort out your log store for the following winter. Living in the Northern part of Sweden, winter is a big thing.  Logs are like currency and timing seems to be everything.

You need to cut your timber, and as silver birch makes the best logs for us, its in the depths of winter when the tree isn’t drawing water. Read more...

In praise of Pines.

In praise of Pines.

by Chris ~ 11 May, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Pine trees are found across the world, there are over one hundred different species.  Many are native to the coniferous forests  (Taiga) of the Northern Hemisphere.  Their evergreen needles (leaves) offer shade in summer, and the trees may offer a degree of shelter from the winds of autumn and winter.  Gardeners and foresters 'like' Pines as they generally tolerate nutrient poor and somewhat dry soils.   In the period after WW2,  considerable areas of ‘low grade’ land were pressed into service (in the U.K.).   Areas around Thetford and Kielder were used, as were some sandy coastal sites (for example,  Holkham in Norfolk) and many large tracts of land in Scotland.  Pines are central to the business of agroforestry in places like the U.K,  New Zealand and Brazil, providing a source of lumber.    Read more...

Solid fuels and wood burning stoves,

Solid fuels and wood burning stoves,

by Lewis ~ 30 April, 2018 ~ 3 comments

During the last decade, a market has developed for wood burning stoves. and sales have soared to 200,000 a year.   Wood burning stoves are marketed as ‘eco friendly’, ‘low emission’ and as offering ‘savings on fuel costs’.   Indeed, not only has the woodlands blog written about the pros and cons of different woods in stoves, but Angus has written enthusiastically about the installation of his wood burning stove (it keeps the house warm and reduces carbon emissions).

However, some are beginning to question the wisdom of installing wood stoves.    The market for wood fuel has grown in parallel with the installation of these stoves.   To meet the demand for wood fuel, even some areas of natural woodland have been felled.    For example, mature oaks from Ryton Wood near Coventry were felled to provide fuel for log burning.   Indeed, more wood from British woodland is being burnt now than at any time since the industrial revolution.     Read more...

Lignum Vitae - A wood so unique it was used in the first nuclear-powered submarines

Lignum Vitae – A wood so unique it was used in the first nuclear-powered submarines

by Oliver ~ 20 April, 2018 ~ one comment

Lignum Vitae, Latin for the ‘tree of life’, has a set of properties that cause a newfound awe in natural materials. Also known as Ironwood, it is the hardest and heaviest traded wood, being 3 to 4 times the hardness of English Oak. It was the alleged medicinal properties of Lignum Vitae which have earned it the title ‘tree of life’.  Sometimes brewed into a tea or as a herbal medicine; historically - it was used to treat symptoms of gout, arthritis and syphilis. Its properties / uses are still being explored. Read more...

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