Now is a good time to grow timber, says machinery ring

BMR's woodland manager Paul Boobyer measuring tree diameters
BMR's woodland manager Paul Boobyer measuring tree diameters

More than 18 months into a woodland management project, a leading agricultural co-operative has audited nearly 80 farm woodlands and produced free management plans for nearly 40.

Borders Machinery Ring (BMR) started the project (in January 2013), aimed at bringing under-managed farm woods into active management to benefit owners, forestry contractors and the local economy.

BMR’s woodland manager, Paul Boobyer said: “It is an excellent time to sell timber, to take advantage of a round wood market that has hardly ever looked better.

“Timber prices are currently high, as British-grown timber is in demand and the spring of 2014 will probably go down as one of the best starts to a year most home-grown sawmillers have ever experienced.

“Underlying demand from a recovering construction industry has been boosted by good weather and significant storm and flood damage to repair. Furthermore, both small and large scale biomass operations are now providing an alternative to the traditional markets and helping to maintain good prices.

“All sectors of the sawn market are buoyant, with the fencing market in particular being very strong. The pallet and packaging sector, although experiencing good demand, is finding stronger price resistance than either the fencing or construction sectors.”

Funded by LEADER and Scottish Enterprise, the Farm Woodland Management Project checks woodlands, comes up with management plans and arranges forestry operations.

Paul said more than half of the 38 management plans have been approved by Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS): “An FCS-approved plan enables owners to apply for SRDP funding for a variety of management operations, as well as providing evidence of sustainably-sourced timber, which will soon be a requirement for anyone wishing to claim RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) payments for heat production if they are using logs or woodchips produced from their own woodlands, or are wishing to sell logs or woodchips produced from their own woodlands.”

Once the plans have been approved by FCS, BMR, whose members include contractors, arranges for work quotes.

Paul said: “To date, felling has taken place at two properties, while a further two will have been completed by the end of September at properties that have suffered severe windblow. The felling that has taken place has earned owners several thousand pounds net profit and provided one of them with around 160 tonnes of timber that he intends to chip for his biomass boiler.”

BMR has produced management plans for nearly 970 hectares of woodland, with nearly 60ha felled so far.

Paul added woodlands can be managed for timber, woodfuel and game bird rearing, commenting: “The firewood market has increased dramatically in recent years and a tonne of good-quality firewood now competes in price with a tonne of best-quality conifer logs.”

Profits from the sales of timber are tax free. For more information contact Paul on 01896 758091.