Not all woods in Britain are, or are ever likely to be, managed to provide timber to meet domestic demand for the resource, this being the case particularly for hardwoods. Some owners do not wish to see their trees harvested and many sites are simply too inaccessible or too small to make felling and extraction viable for anything other than personal use.
But with something like 50% of the deciduous woodlands in private ownership either not in management or severely under-managed, there is almost certainly an untapped resource that could be brought into production, helped by raising awareness amongst woodland owners of what they could be doing with their standing timber (and reduce the significant amount of ‘same use’ hardwood timber imported from around the world).
Forestry Commission England issued a tender at the end of 2016 that firstly sought to research and then publish the values of different species of hardwood trees (a hardwood roundwood price index), and then secondly to inspire woodland owners to think differently about their resource via an on-line film, ideally with a view to them starting to manage their woods for timber production. The tender was won by Grown in Britain which included Woodland Heritage and Pryor & Rickett Silviculture as key delivery partners, the latter represented by its MD and Trustee of Woodland Heritage, Graham Taylor. The film, the filming and editing costs of which were funded by Woodland Heritage, shows how timber trees are grown and managed, what positive and negative features they may develop over time, and how a tree can be valued in terms of the different products it can yield. If any audience could be considered the target it would probably be the owners of small to medium sized woodlands.
Estates with a large area of woodland are likely to be managed in-house or via an agent, but landowners for whom woodlands are very much secondary elements of their holding, may not be familiar with the current state of the timber economy and what options are open to them; the same is likely to be true for other non-commercial, smaller woodland owners.
The notable increase in recent years in the demand for firewood has perhaps masked alternative ways to make money from trees sustainably. The film, however, makes it clear that by nurturing a hardwood tree to enable it to provide planking, beaming and fencing products, as well as some firewood, its value could be seven times what selling simply into the firewood market might achieve.
Filmed largely at Whitney Woods (owned by Will Bullough) and Whitney Sawmills, the film does concentrate on Oak, the most popular hardwood supplied in England, but does not neglect white woods such as Ash and Sycamore.
The hardwood roundwood price index to help owners estimate the value of their timber resource also appears on the Grown in Britain website.