British forestry policy supports the protection and expansion of Britain's forests, woodland and trees and promotes the production of high quality timber:
- There is an obligation to replant woodland which is felled and new planting is encouraged on land which is surplus to the requirements of agricultural production
- New and existing woodlands should provide multiple benefits and must be sustainable.
New planting trends
Commercial conifer planting has been in decline since the early 1990's whereas there is an increasing area of new planting schemes which are intended to create new native woodlands. Cost-effective establishment systems for the main commercial species are well understood and are based on the use of appropriate cultivation and good quality planting stock supplemented by weed control and fertilization.
By contrast, recommendations are that new native woodlands should cause minimum disturbance to the environment and approved operations will be those which are essential for establishment.
The area of restocking in Britain's forests will double over the next 15 years and by the middle of the this century, the majority of timber will be supplied from second rotation stands. Most commercial plantations are undergoing some form of restructuring to increase diversity and enhance the non market benefits which woodlands provide. It is critical that areas of commercial woodland should maximise the quantity and quality of timber they produce.
Restocking systems should ensure that commercial conifers are established at 2500 trees/ha to ensure that the timber produced meets the strength classes which are required for constructional grades of timber. This requirement is particularly critical for Sitka spruce.