Tree and wood properties of birch and sycamore


This project aims to provide information to growers and processors about the wood properties, timber potential and likely merchantable volume of these species which are increasingly being considered for use in future forests. In particular we wish to establish if higher grades of structural timbers can be produced from these hardwood species relative to our domestic softwood species.

Research objectives

  • To identify suitable commercial stands of these species and obtain more extensive test sample material than has previously been available to researchers.
  • To undertake wood strength, stiffness and density measurements both on small clearwood test pieces and also furniture and structural-sized timber.
  • To provide more extensive data on the wood properties and mechanical performance of these species.

Results so far

Samples are being tested and the data are currently being analysed.


Current (2014-2019)

Related Products/Services

Related Resources

Ecological Site Classification (ESC) Decision Support System
Managing for Timber Quality Decision Support System
Growing Broadleaves for Timber. Forestry Commission Handbook 9 PDF download
Downy birch
Silver birch


Andrew Price

Funders and partners

The project is funded by FC Scotland, FC England and Natural Resources Wales via the Forest Products Research Programme, (Wood and Timber Properties).

It is being undertaken in partnership with the Edinburgh Napier University Centre for Timber Engineering, with the generous assistance of Buccleuch Estates Ltd.

Forestry Commission policy
This work will support:

FC Scotland policy: The Scottish timber industry and Scotland's timber resources, particularly via The timber development programme
FC England policy: Protecting, improving and expanding England's woodland resource
Welsh Government policy: Woodlands for Wales

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