Short rotation forestry (SRF)

What is short rotation forestry?

While short rotation coppicing (SRC) cuts the tree back to a stool to promote the growth of multiple stems, on a regular cycle of roughly 2-4 years, it is also possible to practice something more closely akin to conventional forestry, though on a shorter timescale.

Short rotation forestry (SRF) consists of planting a site and then felling the trees when they have reached a size of typically 10-20 cm diameter at breast height.  Depending on tree species this usually takes between 8 and 20 years, and is therefore intermediate in timescale between SRC and conventional forestry.  This has the effect of retaining the high productivity of a young plantation, but increasing the wood to bark ratio.

It is currently proposed that the stem wood only would be removed from the site, with bark stripped during harvesting and left on site with other residues to return nutrients to the soil.

Species

A number of species, native, naturalized and exotic, have been proposed for SRF, including various varieties of:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Nothofagus (southern beech)
  • Poplar
  • Sycamore
  • Ash

Yields

Based on very limited field trials yields comparable to, or even exceeding, those obtainable from SRC have been obtained from some species, however it is possible that these results will not be reproducible on a wide scale across the UK.

What's of interest

Some additional information on Short Rotation Forestry

Establishment and maintenance of a woodfuel resource

Guidance from Forest Research on establishing and maintaining a short rotation forestry (SRF) plantation for energy (PDF - 142 kB)

Short Rotation Forestry trials - Scotland

An Extended Summary from Forest Research Technical Development (PDF - 962 kB)

Short Rotation Forestry trials - England

An Extended Summary from Forest Research Technical Development (PDF - 785 kB)