Tree and Wood Properties

SummarySpadeadam Logs

This project aims to investigate the relationships between tree growth, environment and genetics on the wood properties that are crucial to both the survival of forests and the sustainable production of a range of forest products from the domestic forest resource.


Research objectives

  • Provide evidence based guidance on the suitability of conifer and broadleaved species for a range of forest products

  • Quantify the relationship between the growing environment and wood formation to inform how forest management practices will affect the production of forest products.

  • Implementation of modern and efficient methods for measuring and continual monitoring of the wood properties of trees.


The current cycle of research was initiated in 2015 and is due to last until March 2020. We have two active Work Packages with three Work Areas in each.

Measuring and Modelling Wood Properties

The key aims of these areas of research are to develop measurement techniques that will allow us to more effectively assess and monitor the national forest resource. Plus we wish to gain further insight into how trees are shaped, in a physical and structural sense, by their environment. We are focusing on tree and wood properties that are essential for productive, yet resilient (in the sense of climate) forests, in line with current and future end uses/markets. We aim to add value to all values of the forest wood chain promoting economic growth

Diversifying the Timber Supply

The main aim of these research areas is to address the changes in raw material supply to the forest product industries that can occur due to possible changes in planting and management strategies. Additionally we aim to investigate the ecosystem service of carbon sequestration provided by a range of tree species to inform the public and practitioners alike


Paul McLean

Funders and partners

This research is funded by the Forestry Commission as part of the Wood & Timber Properties programme and by Forestry Commission Scotland through the Timber Development Programme. Research is guided by input from the Improving Conifer Timber Quality Steering Group.

Research is conducted in partnership with other research groups including:

  • The Integrated Research in Timber (SIRT) network - a collaborative research initiative between Forest Research, the University of Glasgow, and Edinburgh Napier University
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Bath
  • University of Surrey
  • Building Research Establishment

Forestry Commission policy  

The sustainable production and utilisation of British timber is a key component of the forestry strategies of England, Scotland and Wales: research in this project will produce information and tools in support of these policy objectives.

In England the Government Forestry and Woodlands Policy Statement highlighted ‘The scope for developing new markets based around a better understanding of the value and potential of our trees, woods and forests’ and the need to “increase the amount of woodland management driven by economic activity through the sustainable harvesting of wood products”.

In Scotland the Scottish Forestry Strategy seeks to “Maximise the economic potential of Scotland’s timber resources”. Forestry Commission Scotland’s Timber Development Programme focuses on four objectives:

  • Promote a predictable and stable timber supply.
  • Encourage more use of timber and timber products
  • Enable improvements to timber supply chain efficiency
  • Encourage and enable improvements to the quality of the growing stock.

In Wales, the Woodlands for Wales Forest Strategy has “A competitive and integrated forest sector” as a key outcome, with planned actions including “More Welsh-grown timber is used in Wales” and “Increased use of timber as a key renewable resource”.