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Summary of Programme

The move to a low carbon economy is expected to place an increasing demand on timber and forest products and there is a need to increase our domestic production to support sustainable economic growth in the sector. Increasing demand for sustainable construction and infrastructure materials as well as biomass is expected.

An over-arching objective of the work covered by this programme is to identify and assess current and potential markets for forest products and services and how woods and forests can supply these.  The programme involves studying not only wood formation and timber quality of the main species planted in the UK, but also of alternative species that could be considered to increase resilience.

It includes research on timber properties and tree breeding for improvement of timber quality, growth and tolerance to disease and climate change. It also includes work on short rotation forestry for biomass production to reduce the need for imports and to contribute to CO2 capture, as well as on timber prices. It is expected to extend to ecosystem services more widely through work on development of payments for ecosystem services markets.

Work Areas

WA1: Availability of future markets

Improving the productivity and quality of the softwood and hardwood timber resource to widen future markets. Activities will include tree improvement through selection and breeding, together with the development of timber properties models which will be used to assess the quality of future timber supplies and inform management decisions.

WA2: Barriers to use of domestic timber

Overcoming barriers to the use of domestic timber, while improving efficiency in the supply chain and building resilience.  Activities will include improved methods for assessing quality, use of remote-sensing, and breeding for resistance to disease.

WA3: Market potential of emerging species

Characterising the properties of timber that will be produced from British forests as managers seek to increase diversity and improve resilience in response to climate change.

WA4: Short Rotation Forestry

Investigating Short Rotation Forestry to improve the productivity of biomass. This activity will reduce the need for imports and contribute to CO2 capture.

WA5: Payments for ecosystem services

The aim of this WA is to investigate the development of payments for ecosystem service markets.

Key Topics

Timber propertiesTree breeding; Timber quality; Short rotation coppicepayments for ecosystem services.

Contributing Science Groups

  • Forest Genetics
  • Forest Management Research Group
  • Forest Mensuration, Modelling and Forecasting 
  • Social & Economic Research Group

Programme Manager

Richard Whittet

Elspeth Macdonald

(formerly Gustavo Lopez)

Work Area Co-Leads – Gregory Valatin