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Sawn wood: residual bark


1. This instruction sets out the requirements to be followed when producing sawn wood products from trees harvested in accordance with statutory notice served under the Plant Health (Forestry) Order 2005 or the Plant Health (Forestry) (Phytophthora ramorum) (Great Britain) Order 2004.

2. They are considered necessary in order to minimise the risk of transmission of Ramorum dieback of Japanese larch. They will be kept under review and may be subject to amendment from time to time. The version published on the Forestry Commission’s website shall be the authoritative version.

Types of sawn wood

3. For the purpose of this instruction, three categories of sawn wood are described:

a. untreated;
b. heat treated; and
c. kiln dried.

4. The following sections set out the requirements in respect of residual bark. For this purpose residual bark does not include the vascular cambium, in-grown bark around knots, or bark pockets between rings of annual growth, and there is no requirement to remove any of this material.


5. For sawn wood which has not been either heat treated or kiln dried, all product shall be bark-free. It will not, however, be necessary to achieve this through square sawing, and there shall be no limit on the amount of wane which may be present.

Heat treated

6. Heat treatment is the process whereby wood is subject to a specific time-temperature schedule which achieves a minimum temperature of 56o C for a minimum duration of 30 continuous minutes throughout the entire profile of the wood. Many heat treatment facilities have been accredited under Forestry Commission procedures for the purpose of producing wood packaging material, or components thereof, in compliance with ISPM (International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures) No. 15 “Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade”, and are approved to mark product accordingly.

7. Sawn wood which has been heat treated in accordance with this specification may retain any number of visually separate and clearly distinct small pieces of bark if they are:

  • less than 3 cm in width (regardless of the length); or
  • greater than 3 cm in width, with the total surface area of an individual piece of bark less than 50 square centimetres.

8. Each piece of sawn wood which has been heat treated and which retains any residual bark shall be marked “HT”.  Heat-treated sawn wood which is totally bark-free need not be marked.

9. Operators of heat treatment facilities which have not been approved by the Forestry Commission under ISPM No. 15 procedures shall need to satisfy the Plant Health Service that their facility can achieve the heat treatment specification set out in paragraph 6 before being authorised to apply an “HT” mark.

Kiln dried

10. Kiln drying is the process whereby wood is dried in a closed chamber using heat and/or humidity control to achieve a moisture content of below 20 per cetn expressed as a percentage of dry matter.

11. Sawn wood which has been kiln dried in accordance with this specification may retain any amount of bark.

12. Each piece of sawn wood which has been kiln dried and which retains any residual bark shall be marked “KD” or “kiln dried”.  Kiln-dried sawn wood which is totally bark-free need not be marked.

Wood Preservatives

13.   Wood preservatives are formulated to provide protection against a range of insects and wood-rotting fungi. Although the principal preservatives currently in use in the UK may not have been tested specifically for efficacy against P. ramorum, the information provided by the preservative manufacturers suggests that the risk of transfer of infection is low, especially in the case of formulations containing copper-based compounds with wide-spectrum toxicity.

14.  Timber obtained from P. ramorum infected sites may be utilised in bark-free or kiln dried or heat treated round or sawn sections.  Alternatively and especially when fencing products are being produced, timber should be treated with a wood preservative applied by an impregnation process which involves pressure and/or vacuum cycles. Some processes may also involve elevated temperatures.   Where timber is to be used in ground contact situations, the preservative should of course comply with the requirements of BS8417 and BS EN 335, Part 1, Use Class 4.

Further advice

15. Further advice on any aspect of this instruction should be sought in the first instance from the Plant Health Service enquiry point, Forestry Commission, Silvan House, Edinburgh (tel: 0131 314 6414, e-mail

Plant Health Service
11 January 2011