Given that Britain is a relatively small nation with a high population density, the thought of providing our own timber is usually laughed at with reason. Currently, less than 10% of all timber used in Britain is home-grown and while this number will probably never reach 100%, there is potential for this to grow. The issue isn’t with supply of British grown timber, the problem is that the demand is not high.
13% of Britain’s land area is forested, comprising of forest plantations and ancient forests such as Savernake forest. By means of comparison, European countries average at 44%. The aim is to increase Britain’s cover by 4% by planting 30,000 hectares of forest per year. Although the results of this increased planting won’t be seen for another 25 years at least, Britain has been aware of the problem since the end of WW1. WW1 depleted the UK’s timber resources down to less than 5% forest cover so the Government set up the forestry commission in 1919 to provide the UK with a ready resource of timber in times of emergency without having to rely on imported timber. This has meant that the commercial UK-grown timber operation has now fully matured and there is a wide variety of species, both slow-growing hardwoods and fast-growing softwoods readily available and all sourced from UK forests.
Most of the UK’s forests, in particular commercial forests are found in northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The largest forest in the UK is Galloway forest which is 297 square miles. In second place, at 235 square miles is Kielder forest in Northumberland. Although its not the largest forest in the UK, Kielder is responsible for the greatest amount of UK grown timber. In fact, over a third of Forestry England’s timber production is comes from Kielder. This equates to 50 lorry loads of timber harvested each day which accumulates to over 450,000 cubic metres. This is primarily used to supply sawmills, wood fuel, chipboard not to mention timber seating.
|1.||Galloway Forest Park||Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland||770||297|
|2.||Kielder Forest Park||Northumberland, England||610||235|
|3.||New Forest||Hampshire, England||270||104|
|4.||Dornoch Forest||Sutherland, Scotland||260||100|
|5.||Argyll Forest Park||Argyll, Scotland||210||81|
|6.||Queen Elizabeth Forest Park||Stirling, Scotland||200||77|
|7.||Thetford Forest Park||Norfolk / Suffolk, England||190||73|
|8.||Affric Forest||Invernesshire, Scotland||180||69|
|9.||Tay Forest Park||Perthshire, Scotland||170||65|
|10.||Glengarry Forest||Invernesshire, Scotland||165||63|