Scottish forestry potential looking good

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27 JULY 2012NEWS RELEASE No: 15567

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A new report from the Forestry Commission states that Scotland potentially has significantly more softwood resource than was thought.

Drawn from National Forest Inventory (NFI) data, the forecast of potential softwood availability suggests that over the coming 25 years, an average 7million m3 of timber each year(3) could potentially be available from private sector woodlands in Scotland.

This is higher than the previous estimate (an average of 4.7million m3 over 15 years), although the figures are not directly comparable.

This is in addition to 3.2million m3 of softwood for the market that is harvested on Scotland’s national forest estate.

Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, said:

“The National Forest Inventory, which looks at the picture across the UK as a whole, is the most accurate, data-rich assessment of forestry that there has ever been. It will take considerably more work to tease out key information from the data but these initial reports are very encouraging.

“The picture for Scottish forestry is very promising and these findings will bolster confidence across the sector, underlining the strong position that the industry is in as it looks to the future.

“However it should be borne in mind that this ‘forecast of potential availability’ is in effect a gross volume of timber. A proportion of that volume will never come to market but none the less, there is the potential to increase the supply to market.

“We now need to work with the forest industries to determine how much of that timber can be brought to market, taking account of issues such as access, harvesting costs, forest design considerations and prices."

Improved data collection technology and data analysis methods have made the current NFI the most accurate yet. As well as providing a definitive picture of the extent, location and nature of Britain’s woodlands and how they might change in the future, NFI data is also being used to provide more accurate forecasts than were previously available. 

The softwood availability forecast (and its companion 25-year forecast of softwood standing volume) are published approximately every five years, and are intended to provide the forestry and timber industries with a long-term view of potential timber removals.

For more information - and the NFI reports - visit

1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate.

2) This is because woodland area, volumes per hectare and growth rates are all higher than previously estimated.

3) The report projects that private and publicly owned forests across the UK could produce around 17M m3 of softwood per year if managed to maximise timber production.