Advances in estimating forest production

Standing Timber Volume for Coniferous Trees in Britain report, published recently by the Forestry Commission

News from Forest Research: June 2012

Pile of felled timberDid you know that Britain’s forests contain an estimated 336 million cubic metres of coniferous timber or that forests managed by the Forestry Commission contain just over one-third of this volume, at 125 million cubic metres, while forests in private and other forms of ownership contain about 211 million cubic metres? These are just some facts contained within the Standing Timber Volume for Coniferous Trees in Britain report, published recently by the Forestry Commission.

Forest Research’s multidisciplinary work underpins this report, involving specialist biometricians, statisticians, forest surveyors, climate change and timber property scientists, who have all worked to develop and deliver a new Forecast System.

The new system uses the National Forest Inventory dataset generated from field surveys. These estimates are then ‘bulked up’ to produce an output on GB and country scales for the private sector. For the first time, standard errors have been calculated to indicate confidence in the estimates. Another new feature of the forecast system is that it can produce estimates of biomass and carbon.

For Sitka spruce, one of the most important commercial species in forestry, it also provides a report of the felled volume divided into stem straightness categories – this data is hugely significant for the timber processing industries as it shows what volumes of timber are expected for different product types and their respective markets.

The accurate quantification of UK forests is an essential part of planning for a range of interests, including industry development, biodiversity and climate change. Further reports to be published later this year will explore the implications of these figures with particular reference to potential timber availability and carbon sequestration.

The report can be downloaded from

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This and other news stories can be found in the Summer 2012 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.