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Timber measurement


Annual Summary of Research
1 April 2003–31 March 2004


Revision of Forestry Commission Booklet 39
FR Mensuration staff have responded to an urgent requirement to prepare a new version of Forestry Commission Booklet 39, Forest Mensuration Handbook, first published in 1975. The text and many of the images from the original book have been reproduced in electronic format and the structure of the book has been changed to improve readability. Some sections that had become out of date have been revised.

As part of this work, FR Mensuration staff carried out a check of the entire text. Where necessary, extensive changes were made to some sections of the book, in particular updating the description of tarrifing to include various methods of abbreviated tarrifing. The section dealing with measurement of weight and volume:weight conversion factors was completely rewritten. The updated text dealing with weight has been circulated for consultation with representatives of the timber industry, as currently this is particularly topical.

Preparation of articles for Forestry and British Timber

Some progress was made on preparing a series of articles for publication in Forestry and British Timber. A series of 5 articles is in preparation outlining basic aspects of measurement. The articles will include:
  • Measurement of felled volume
  • Measurement of standing volume
  • Conversion loss
  • Sale of timber by weight
  • Assessment of woodfuel potential.

One purpose of these articles is to provide a more popular and accessible treatment of the new material included in the revised version of Forestry Commission Booklet 39.


Trials of new technology and systems. Fieldwork testing the suitability of Masser digital callipers for use in tariffing is currently being initiated in 3 FE forest districts. TDB project on drying of wood fuel. FR Mensuration staff have been working with FR Technical Development Branch on the design of a pilot study for assessing the rate of drying of wood fuel stored in the forest under different conditions.

Advisory work

Customers seeking advice from FR on timber measurement issues can be separated into four groups:
  • FE and Forestry Commission staff requesting advice on general issues relating to measurement procedures and conventions in GB and Forestry Commission publications. The timber measurement project leader is also the focus for user support on procedural tariffing enquires relating to the Forestry Commission TCCP (Tariff checking and Calculation Package) computer software used in FE districts.
  • Individuals and private sector forestry companies requiring advice on application of Forestry Commission measurement procedures.
  • Members of the public and education establishments requesting basic advice on specific issues. Examples are estimating approximate ages of individual trees, measuring standing volume, measuring tree height, guidance on the most appropriate publications to obtain.

FR Mensuration staff participated in a working group looking into the feasibility of using sawmill log scanners as part of a procedure for determining volume for sales based on a sampled volume to weight factor. Basic advice was provided on measurement conventions and procedures and a contribution was made to a report prepared by Forestry Commission Scotland.