The benefits of bringing unmanaged woodland into use


Woodland is an important contributor to the rural economy. James Pyrah discusses the opportunities for landowners to open up fresh income streams by utilising unmanaged woodland

Timber and wood-fuel prices are high at the moment and the market is strong, so now is an opportune time to look into the process of bringing unmanaged woodland into productive use.

Finding extra value in wind damaged woodland or small patches of woodland that have previously been neglected is a great way for farmers and landowners to improve their balance sheet – as well as helping the environment.

Alternatively, you may have woodland that has been managed in the past and is reaching maturity, now is a good time to take action.

Unlocking the value of unmanaged woodland

Figures from the Forestry Commission suggest that only 58 out of every 100 hectares of woodland has been managed for the past three years.

This means there is a persuasive business case for utilising more of the timber and wood-fuel resources tied up in the 42% of unmanaged woodlands in a way that benefits landowners, along with rural communities and the environment.

Grant schemes are available to aid the management and creation of woodland. Professional guidance can help to identify lucrative markets for timber and wood-fuel, organising sales and finding sellers and contractors.

Why the timber market is particularly strong

The UK currently imports over half of the timber required to meet demand. There is an increase in demand for forestry products as industries, such as large-scale biomass power plants, expand across the UK.

Meanwhile, the UK government’s housebuilding programme continues to support timber values, with 200,000 new homes scheduled to be built annually, many of them using timber-framed techniques. This in turn, with the low exchange rate, means that timber in the UK is in short supply and this has driven up prices.

Whilst there can be speculation on future timber prices, forestry management will continue to be beneficial to landowners as there will always be a need for forestry products, for housing, furniture, biomass etc., and trees cannot grow quickly enough to meet demand.

Opportunities abound for large and smaller landowners

For managed woodland there is no better time than the present to bring this back into management. Not only is there the potential to benefit from good financial returns but there is an opportunity to create a visual difference across the landscape and transform areas that may currently appear neglected.

The importance of professional advice

Here at Robson & Liddle we can advise on all types of land, from large conifer forests to smaller mixed woodlands. We can also assist with the practicalities of woodland management, as well as identifying opportunities for marketing timber and entering the wood-fuel market.

In addition, we can guide you through the sometimes-challenging process of applying for grant funding available for the sustainable management of forests and woodland.