We know we need to grow more trees for all sorts of reasons. But new research from the Royal Forestry Society suggests we could be producing more of the timber and woodfuel we need simply by doing more to manage the woodlands we already have. Their analysis suggests there’s a 10% gap in Wales between the area we currently manage and government targets. If we could remove the gap, it estimates an additional £2.2m and 35 rural jobs could be generated.

BRINGING WOODLAND INTO MANAGEMENT, The missed opportunities in England and Wales’ just published by the Royal Forestry Society (www.rfs.org.uk) identifies unmanaged woodland in England and Wales and what it describes as the wasted opportunities, in terms of economic output, lost carbon capture and storage and biodiversity. It suggests this threatens the health, resilience and ultimately the future of these woodlands.

Managed woodland, measured through management plans and felling licenses includes weeding, thinning, pruning, pest control, wildlife habitat management, flood control and restocking. RFS’ analysis is that most unmanaged woodland is broadleaved and in private ownership. In its findings it identifies 53,000 hectares as available to be brought into sustainable management in Wales. The report identifies the benefits from and barriers to management and lists actions which can be taken by Government and others, including education and training, market support (including a ‘wood first policy’ for encouraging use of wood in construction) and financial support – some of this is included in the UK Government’s Agriculture Bill, currentyl passing through Parliament.

Read full report here.

Seeing the wood for the trees