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Forestry Commission Wales has unveiled details of the way it intends to sell trees from the forests it looks after.
Welsh forests are some of the most productive in the UK with enough timber to build 130,000 timber framed houses leaving Welsh Assembly Government woodlands every year.
The Commission presented its timber marketing strategy, which spells out how it intends to do business with the industry for the next five years, to forest business representatives in Newtown on Thursday (January 27).
FC Wales aims to ensure that timber sold from Assembly Government woodlands helps to fight climate change as well as supporting a thriving forest industry in Wales which employs in the region of 8,900 people.
Sawmillers, processors, contractors and woodland managers attending the annual Customer Liaison Group meeting heard that FC Wales was committed to retaining timber production at its current levels.
The new document reflects the aims of Woodlands for Wales, the Assembly Government’s woodland strategy, which seeks to support a competitive forest sector to boost the Welsh economy and ensure that more Welsh-grown timber is used in Wales, thereby helping to reduce our carbon footprint.
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands and FC Wales manages the 311,000 acres owned by the Assembly Government, which make up 38% of Wales’s total woodland cover.
The forest industry is worth £370 million a year to the Welsh economy and the new timber marketing strategy coincides with increasing demand for this renewable product as new markets open up for wood.
FC Wales’s Market Development Advisor Bill MacDonald said, “The emerging markets for woodfuel and biomass have created exciting opportunities for low grade material since the last strategy was published, but we need to try to accommodate these in a way which allays the concerns of our traditional customers.
“We hope this new strategy will help to further develop skills and create more jobs in enterprises associated with woodland and timber, and provide opportunities for new enterprises to develop and compete for timber supplies.”
All the timber harvested from Assembly Government woodlands must comply with the requirements of the UK Woodland Assurance Standard, which includes greater use of alternatives to clearfell, restoring woodland with special characteristics and supporting conservation, recreation and social outcomes.
Most of the timber will be sold online through a mix of standing trees and felled logs at roadside in order to give a wide range of customers the opportunity to buy timber.
“We will also seek to encourage investment in the industry by continuing to offer long term contracts for supply of timber – albeit with a focus on new objectives such as supporting investment in timber harvesting, especially thinning, in difficult areas,” said Bill.
All Assembly Government timber carries the internationally recognised Forest Stewardship Council logo and is registered with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme, denoting that it is sourced from sustainably-managed forests.
Caption: WHaM Operations Manager Hugh Jones studies the new timber marketing strategy document, flanked by Stuart Goodall (left), Chief Executive of Confor, and David Sulman, Chief Executive of UK Forest Products Association.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to other woodland owners and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
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