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Softwood availability forecast

The National Forest Inventory "50-year forecast of softwood availability" and "50-year forecast of hardwood availability" were published in April 2014. They are forecasts of potential availability rather than production, as they do not take account of management objectives, financial factors or the state of markets, all of which will affect the level of and timing of harvesting.

More information on the forecasts and detailed breakdowns are available on the National Forest Inventory web pages at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/national-forest-inventory/

The forecasts are outside the scope of National Statistics, but are provided here to give more context to the data on wood production.

As these forecasts were produced in 2014, they do not take into account any of the findings from the 'preliminary estimates of the changes in canopy cover in British woodlands between 2006 and 2015', released in August 2016.

The key assumptions underpinning the headline softwood forecast scenario include:

  • Private woodland is managed in a way that maximises total production.
  • The estate of the Forestry Commission and Natural Resources Wales is managed according to current management plans; note both Forestry Commission Scotland and Natural Resources Wales intend to cap production below the level set out in Table 2.4a.

Under the above scenario, softwood availability for Great Britain averages 15.2 million cubic metres a year over the 50-year period 2013 to 2061 (Table 2.4a). The majority (66%) of this softwood is projected to come from private sector woodland.

Table 2.4a Softwood availability forecasts

Annual average in the period England Wales Scotland GB
thousand cubic metres overbark standing    
FC/NRW1        
2013 – 2016 1632 1082 4220 6933
2017 – 2021 1330 991 3658 5980
2022 – 2026  1211 895 3516 5622
2027 – 2031  1159 778 3789 5726
2032 – 2036  1066 934 3215 5216
2037 – 2041 1013 794 2936 4744
2042 – 2046  1055 531 2730 4316
2047 – 2051 1014 585 3280 4879
2052 – 2056 828 495 2886 4209
2057 – 2061 1250 679 2339 4269
Private sector2        
2013 – 2016 2945 901 5708 9554
2017 – 2021 3225 949 6997 11171
2022 – 2026 2903 1087 7830 11820
2027 – 2031 2986 775 8910 12671
2032 – 2036 2850 736 8847 12433
2037 – 2041 2224 679 8133 11035
2042 – 2046 1848 490 6527 8865
2047 – 2051 1523 521 4986 7030
2052 – 2056 1431 734 5679 7845
2057 – 2061 1603 694 5627 7924
Total softwood        
2013 – 2016 4577 1983 9928 16487
2017 – 2021 4555 1940 10656 17151
2022 – 2026 4113 1982 11346 17442
2027 – 2031 4145 1553 12700 18398
2032 – 2036 3916 1670 12062 17649
2037 – 2041 3237 1473 11069 15779
2042 – 2046 2903 1021 9257 13181
2047 – 2051 2537 1106 8266 11909
2052 – 2056 2259 1229 8566 12054
2057 – 2061 2853 1373 7966 12193

Source: National Forest Inventory: 50-year forecast of softwood availability (Forestry Commission, April 2014)3

Notes:

1. The estate of the Forestry Commission and Natural Resources Wales is assumed to be managed according to current management plans; note both Forestry Commission Scotland and Natural Resources Wales intend to cap production below the level set out in Table 2.4a.

2. Private woodland is assumed to be managed in a way that maximises total production.

3. More recent softwood availability forecasts, covering a 25 year period only, are available from the NFI web pages at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/national-forest-inventory/how-our-woodlands-might-change-over-time-8211-nfi-forecast-reports/.

4. An update to these figures is due to be published in 2020.

5. To convert softwood ‘overbark standing’ into green tonnes multiply by 0.818.  See the Sources chapter for more details on conversion factors.

These figures are outside the scope of National Statistics.  For further information see the Sources chapter.

 

Additional resources

Sources chapter: Timber

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