Forestry ISSUE 2 SUMMER 2019
Eye in the sky: how drones can help foresters n n n n n
Rewilding ďŹ nds growing interest Galbraith and Land Factor merge The road to success for a forest investor Working together to explore the past Factoring in climate change
Another strong year for forestry
Welcome to the second edition of Forestry matters. our ﬁrst issue was very well received and I hope you will continue to enjoy our round-up of all things forestryrelated.
The past year has continued to be a strong period for the forestry sector. Timber values have maintained their strong levels and the supply of forestry assets to the agency market continues to fall below demand, thus creating a very buoyant market. The extension of the new planting grants into 2020 was welcome news, and it has facilitated a number of woodland creation projects for the team at Galbraith. Ongoing uncertainty over Brexit and farming subsidies mean that forestry continues to be an attractive diversiﬁcation option for many upland farmers and the planting grants are crucial to this. We are also delighted to announce our merger with Land Factor, a specialist ﬁrm of rural surveyors and forest managers based in Northern England. The addition of two new foresters to the team, including Athole McKillop (Chairman of Confor) is a huge boost. Furthermore, in our Inverness oﬃce, we are joined by the hugely experienced Denis Torley and Niel Taylor. Our team has never been stronger and we are looking forward to the year ahead. Please enjoy the magazine and here’s to the continued prosperity of the forestry sector. Philippa Cliﬀ Head of Forestry
Digging for history: when woodlands offer a glimpse of the past.
Investment: searching for value in forestry. Horse sense: when it’s time for traditional motive power.
10 Flying high: how data from drones can help foresters.
12 What’s a woodland worth? Sea change: a new route to market.
14 Forest plan: factoring in climate change. Forest certification.
16 Land Factor: The way forward for combined business. Scotland’s Forest Strategy.
18 Forest health issues.
19 Clean air: bad news for wood burners?
20 GALBRAITH is a leading independent property consultancy. Drawing on a century of experience in land and property management, the ﬁrm is progressive and dynamic, employing 240 people in oﬀices throughout the UK.
Road to success: a 12year forest project.
22 Eucalyptus: an alternative to Sitka?
Rewilding is gaining ground, particularly on marginal land. Paul Schoﬁeld looks at its potential advantages.
We provide a full range of property consulting services across the commercial, residential, forestry, rural and energy sectors.
the concept of rewilding ﬁrst attracted public attention with the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1995.
Galbraith provides a personal service, listening to clients and delivering advice to suit their particular opportunities and circumstances.
Since then it has developed as a methodology in Europe, with large projects such as Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands and Bialowieza Forest in Poland.
Follow us on Twitter: @Galbraith_Group @Galbraith_FoR Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ GalbraithPropertyconsultancy See us on Instagram: www.instagram.com/GalbraithGroup Join us on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/galbraith
Forestry Matters is produced by Galbraith, and designed by George Gray Media & Design, St Andeux, France. © CKD Galbraith LLP.
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Rewilding takes many diﬀerent forms depending upon circumstances but is chieﬂy the idea of allowing nature to take its course, allowing wildlife habitats to restore themselves and biodiversity to return with all the beneﬁts that natural ecosystems provide, such as an increase in pollinators, improved water quality and ﬂood prevention. It can be controversial, and the practice is by no means widespread on private land. It is unlikely to
nature run its course become so any time soon, but the growing number of prominent examples emerging in the UK in recent years suggests that this unconventional approach to land management may be gaining traction. Notable among these is Danish-owned Wildland Limited, which has a growing portfolio of properties including Glenfeshie (pictured above) and Gaick Estates in the Cairngorms and Strathmore as well as Eribol and Ben Loyal in Sutherland, all managed with a 200-year vision to restore native woodland, montane, peatland, riparian, grassland and coastal habitats rather than the traditional objectives of a Highland estate. Other examples with a similar management ethos in the Highlands include Alladale Wilderness Estate near Bonar Bridge and Strathconon in Ross-shire.
Large areas of land, particularly in upland Scotland, are marginal for agriculture and it is this land that is likely to go out of production as economic conditions and subsidies change in the future. When this happens, rewilding can take place ‘passively’ with the removal of livestock. However, evidence suggests that a passive approach is sometimes not enough. Research at the Upper Teesdale National Nature Reserve in County Durham, for example, shows that moorland left un-grazed for more than 60 years remains substantially the same today. Some degree of active intervention is usually needed to successfully transform land. Measures might include controlled herbivore grazing or deer control to stimulate mosaics of diﬀerent woodland and ground vegetation. Planting of native woodland may be pushing the deﬁnition of rewilding somewhat but where
Some degree of active intervention is usually needed to successfully transform land.
Knepp Estate in West Sussex is perhaps the bestknown example outside Scotland. After 17 years, this 1,400-hectare former mixed estate has been described as the closest thing to a primeval landscape in southern England; a mosaic of water
meadows, thorn scrub, willow and grassland inhabited by free roaming cattle, ponies, pigs and deer.
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no local seed source exists the alternatives are limited. At the more controversial end of rewilding, the reintroduction of missing herbivores and predators can profoundly change the land over time, as the Yellowstone wolves have demonstrated. The reintroduction – oﬃcial and unoﬃcial – of beaver and wild boar has taken place in various parts of the UK. The same has been attempted with wolf and lynx in some more remote parts of Europe with varying success. Ecological processes tend to be slow. Restoring existing, depleted habitats is faster than pioneering from scratch, but creating a landscape that is really natural still takes time – not to mention vision, scale and resources. The main driver for active rewilding is the appeal of managing land in an ecologically sustainable manner in order to return it to a more natural state. The land involved is often agriculturally marginal and generating alternative sources of income is desirable but diﬃcult to achieve in practice. So how can this type of management be justiﬁed economically? There is no doubt that landowners embarking on ambitious rewilding projects are able to justify the costs involved and ﬁnd ways of oﬀsetting them. Tourism is often the main income generator, usually in the form of holiday accommodation. For example, Wildland oﬀers luxury accommodation in a variety of locations and invites visitors to experience a wild landscape in the process of transition. Over the last few decades, interest in the natural environment and non-traditional outdoor pursuits has increased signiﬁcantly. The outdoors has become a huge, year-round industry with people increasingly attracted to authentically wild outdoor experiences. The North Coast 500’s popularity demonstrates the universal attraction of remote places. Income can also come from unexpected sources. Knapp Estate successfully negotiated with the UK government to retain agricultural subsidies in return for delivering biodiversity improvements. Additionally, the estate oﬀers accommodation, wild camping and guided safaris. Elsewhere, woodland creation grants help to fund and provide the incentive for both small and large scale native woodland restoration projects. firstname.lastname@example.org 07717 227 417
Going wild on a highland estate A Perthshire estate has been pioneering rewilding in Scotland. Paul Schoﬁeld reports. BamFF eState, a few miles north of alyth in Perthshire, is a mixed estate that has been experimenting with rewilding for more than 20 years. In 2002, Bamﬀ was the ﬁrst estate to import beavers from Norway, an unpopular decision in some quarters but a bold one that has transformed part of the property into a series of ponds and swamps, creating a biodiverse wetland landscape like few others in the Highlands. Watching this transformation has attracted great interest. In addition to farming, eco-tourism in the form of holiday cottages and ‘glamping’ has become a main source of income. Since 1995, some 90 hectares of Caledonian pinewood has also been planted around Balduﬀ Hill in the foothills to the south of Glen Isla. The owners, Paul and Louise Ramsay, recently decided to complete this work and engaged Galbraith to design a new native woodland on the remaining area of hill. In truth, planted native woodlands are rather poor imitations of the real thing because the complex soil fauna that develops beneath a continuous, long established tree canopy is largely absent from bare land. Some would argue that the trees themselves are the least important component of old growth native woodland – most of the biodiversity occurs below ground where a myriad of fungal mycorrhiza and other
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micro-organisms play an integral part in the cycling of nutrients, forming complex, interdependent relationships with the trees and other vegetation. All we can hope to do with new native woodland is create a seed source that perpetuates successive generations of trees and allows the site to slowly reestablish this complexity over the coming decades. From the outset, the aim is to match the right species to the site and establish the woodland quickly with as little soil disturbance as possible. Older woodland grant schemes sometimes limited species composition and did not enable some sites to meet their full potential. Scots pine is one element of the woodland mosaic that made up the post-glacial Caledonian forest but can end up as the dominant feature to the detriment of other species. At Bamﬀ, there was scope to design a more diverse scheme reﬂecting the transition from acid grassland to moorland further up the hill with oak and pine co-existing on the same site. The boundary of the site is located at the very edge of the Forestry Commission’s Pinewood Zone, a line loosely drawn from pollen analysis denoting the natural extent of Caledonian Scots pine forest. From grassland at 280 metres, the land rises to dry heathland and the summit of Balduﬀ Hill at 425 metres. Well drained brown earth soils grade into infertile podzols above about 320 metres. There is disagreement among ecologists about whether oak would originally have colonised podzolic soils but it will grow adequately, if slowly, beyond 350m with the main limiting factor being exposure
NEWS Government sets out 50-year vision for Scotland’s forests The Scottish Government launched the new Scottish Forestry Strategy in February. This sets out a 50-year vision and provides a 10-year framework to expand, enhance and protect Scotland’s forests and woodlands. An implementation, monitoring and reporting framework will be developed to coordinate delivery and measure progress. A national stakeholder group will also be set up to advise on and support the delivery of the strategy. The strategy is a key element of the new, fully devolved arrangements for forestry in Scotland.
IcF sees record number of chartered promotions Across the UK forestry industry 52 members were promoted to ICF Professional Member status. This was the highest number of promotions in the ICF history. Our senior forester, Louise Alexander was one of these promoted, bringing our total number of chartered foresters to six. and fertility. The soil nutrient status of upland rough pasture is typically low but will improve as the new woodland matures. Of the two native oaks, sessile oak tolerates exposure more readily than pedunculate oak. Another limiting factor is the time constraint imposed by the grant scheme that requires trees to be fully established within a narrow time period. At Bamﬀ, sessile oak was ‘zoned’ with the largest element below 320 metres, a much smaller one above 320 metres and
The aim is to match the right species to the site and establish the woodland quickly with as little soil disturbance as possible.
none beyond 360 metres to achieve a reasonable balance between pushing the capabilities of the site and minimising liability in relation to the grant scheme. All oak was treated with slow release fertiliser at the time of planting to speed up establishment. The other major component was silver and downy birch with Scots pine, rowan, holly, hazel, aspen and juniper as secondary species also zoned appropriately according to site conditions and altitude. Scots pine is the dominant species in one heather-dominated corner of the site.
Aspen is under-represented in literature that describes the likely composition of native woodland because it does not survive well in pollen records. However, it is an important species in boreal forests across the northern hemisphere and at one time was probably more common in Scotland than it is today. Most of the aspen in the scheme will be added gradually as local stock becomes available. The scheme was split into two phases. The ﬁrst phase was completed in November 2018 and the ﬁnal phase will be completed later this year. Ground preparation is needed to relieve soil compaction, control weeds and strip back rank heather. Minimal intervention was achieved with a combination of inverted excavator mounding in grassland areas and a tractor mounted twin disk scariﬁer in heather dominated areas. This work was carried out by Robertson Fencing, Pitlochry. The perimeter of the site was deer and rabbit fenced by Jim Drummond Fencing, Dunkeld and the planting carried out by a team from Mike Todd Forestry, Spittalﬁeld. The planting stock was supplied by Alba Trees, Haddington. The second phase of the planting will round oﬀ the creation of just over 200 hectares of native woodland on Balduﬀ Hill and is the culmination of the owners’ long-term vision for rewilding this part of the property.
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Scotland signs up to Bonn challenge The Scottish Government has signed up to the Bonn Challenge, which aims to regenerate 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscapes by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. The Government’s pledge commits it to a range of future actions including: • Planting 165,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030. This is part of Scotland’s wider ambitions to increase woodland cover from 18% to 21% by 2032. • Delivering a greater level of carbon sequestration with around 10MtCO2e of emissions being soaked up each year up to 2032 – some 130 million tonnes of C02e. • Increasing the annual woodland creation target of 10,000 hectares a year to 15,000 hectares by 2024/25. • Improving the condition and extent of native woodlands, with a target of creating 3,000 to 5,000 hectares of new native woodland each year.
ewing aims for stability Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, announced measures to streamline the Forestry Grant process and create some stability following Brexit. He has promised to maintain, beyond 2021, ‘the current landscape of schemes’ while simplifying the application process and enabling more small landowners to access support.
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A glimpse of the past through the trees Many forest sites contain valuable historical remains. Louise Alexander ﬁnds out how best to reconcile the needs of land managers and archaeologists.
thRouGhout all forestry operations we must be fully aware of all the constraints present on a site and also the potential for new discoveries. At Galbraith, we believe that creating relationships with surveyors is an important part of a land manager’s role and over the past year we have been working closely with AOC Archaeology to identify and record signiﬁcant archaeological features within our clients’ woodlands. Here, AOC’s Operations Manager Mary Peteranna explains the importance of such relationships for both our forestry team and their clients. how important is a pre-planning consultation in relation to new woodland planting? Personally, I think the best starting point is to have a good relationship with an archaeological or heritage consultant – someone you can trust and get in touch with for initial guidance. Doing this early on in the process is always better in the long run. What they should do is help you manage the risk ahead of time, so that you and your client are fully aware of the potential ﬁnancial and time costs for surveys and additional work that may arise. The sooner you ask the question “do I need an archaeologist?”, the more advance warning you have to plan for the risk of heritage work. Although archaeology itself can involve a number of unknowns, it’s more manageable when considered at an early stage. We like to advise our clients to get in touch as soon as possible, and we are always free to discuss a site or programme and provide some initial feedback at no cost. how can good woodland design impact or beneﬁt archaeological sites? A lot of the archaeological landscapes today are almost ‘false’ in the sense that the landscape of today is very much diﬀerent than it was during various periods in prehistory. For example, much of Scotland was covered with native woodland during the Mesolithic period, some 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. Some landscapes that we view today as liminal and bare thousands of years ago contained areas with extensive settlement of active and growing communities whose remains only survive today as archaeological sites. So it’s important to think practically about how new woodland design will aﬀect the setting of an archaeological landscape. Some sites, such as chambered cairns, burial monuments, were built as monumental structures, to be seen across a landscape. Groups of prehistoric roundhouses and post-medieval farmsteads obviously formed communities of settlement. By taking the time to consider the archaeological setting, woodland design can enhance the visibility of signiﬁcant monuments,
and improve the intervisibility of monuments that are inter-related. By leaving enough space between trees within a design (like in an open native woodland scheme), which ensures that buﬀers around sites are made to prevent damage, you can still plant within groups of archaeological sites and actually enhance their setting. We recommend buﬀers of 20m, 10m and 5m depending upon the site type, which is a guide to help prevent unintended damage to archaeological sites. The beneﬁt of keeping the ground around archaeology is also important to note here. We’ve walked over so much ground that has fallen rank due to lack of management. When this happens, as ground conditions worsen, so does the condition of the archaeology. how can foresters better manage these sites? As with most things, I would say that early design planning and communication with contractors is key. How they are managed is also of great importance. By planning ahead, you can ﬁgure out what will be the easiest way to incorporate the archaeological recommendations into a programme. The worse situation is waiting to get the information after planting or groundworks has started. The full team must know where sites are located and what the expectations are for management. I think that one eﬀective way is education – whether in the form of an illustrated talk or an onsite survey with the supervisor to locate sites or a toolbox talk – all of these can help your team understand what to look for. Letting your contractors know when you plan to start works such as demarcation or monitoring needs to be done. While we understand that work schedules change, we can’t help if we don’t know this. This comes into play when thinking of demarcation, setting the boundaries for the site. I hate getting called out too early to demarcate sites – in this wild Scottish weather, our site markers don’t last long and often end up polluting the environment if done too early and that’s no good for the ecology or ﬁeld staﬀ. If works are well managed, we should never have situations where rescue excavation is needed. Usually this occurs because of poor communication as most of the time, managers will have the necessary archaeological survey done, but the information will not be passed on to contractors. This can have a cost impact for excavation and post-excavation requirements. We prefer to take a practical approach and work with managers and contractors. So if something just isn’t working, we should look at the options and ﬁgure out what can be done. Working with experienced woodland managers, such as those at Galbraith, makes our job as archaeologists much easier. Managing all aspects
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Our job isn’t to put up hurdles for land use or development. It’s to protect the heritage.
of the landscape, such as ecology, environment and heritage, is a challenging task. We acknowledge that the value of heritage sites is appreciated more by the individuals of the local community as well as by those visiting an area. It is important that we work together to learn about and safeguard archaeological sites where possible for future generations. how do archaeologists manage the relationships between land use and protecting sites? I think it’s taking a practical approach and considering policy and professional standards, which are in place for the purpose of protecting our heritage, alongside the purpose of land use. It’s important to remain independent from the pressures of developers and advise as professionals, which can be diﬃcult at times. I always say to my staﬀ that when you make a decision of what to do with regards to archaeology, you need to consider the balance between what information you may lose or gain and what the importance of it is. Excavation of a site means the loss of a site – so if a site will be lost by development, we may need to excavate it ﬁrst. But at the same time, do we really need to fully excavate a ﬁeld clearance cairn or a boundary dyke? Probably not. At the same time, our job isn’t to put up hurdles for land use or development. It’s to protect the heritage. In reality, development work has enabled us to learn so much more about our nation’s heritage that never would have been achieved through academic research.
Do you feel that there is a greater awareness of the importance of site protection and monitoring from both the general public and land managers?
AOC archaeologists investigating a hut circle discovered in a harvesting site.
That’s an interesting question. I still visit clients who don’t have a real understanding of what we do. And I ﬁnd that most members of the public are not aware of the role of a commercial archaeologist.
Inset: The remains of a steading within a woodland creation site.
While I do encounter land managers that prefer to avoid discussions about heritage management, the best ones embrace the subject and take an interest in it. At the end of the day, they’re managing land for a community or a landowner and these landscapes have much to give to all of us on many levels – jobs, energy, food, natural resources, wildlife, history and heritage to name a few… I think the more we work together, the better the land is managed and cared for in the future. and ﬁnally, what’s the most interesting ﬁnd you have discovered during your surveys? It’s always exciting to ﬁnd a prehistoric artefact or an ancient burial. And I always get satisfaction from covering new ground and recording the intimate details of the archaeological remains from past occupants. It’s recording part of the story of the past that’s often not written down and not mapped at all. Although we can’t always fully identify a site by survey alone, especially when vegetation growth and ground conditions are poor, there are often particular visible signs that give you a clue if a site is particularly signiﬁcant. But one the most exciting discoveries we had in a landscape survey was the recording of a group of substantial prehistoric burial cairns near the south side of Loch Ness that had not been identiﬁed before.
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The search for value in the forestry market Denis Torley reviews investment opportunities in the buoyant forestry sector.
the 2018 uK Forest market Report (tilhill) highlighted the continuing strength of forestry as an investment. It noted that the forestry market remains buoyant, with unit prices for larger properties continuing to rise slightly and a continuing solid trade in medium-sized properties. The trend of increasing interest in mixed woodland, with both commercial and amenity value, also continues apace. While more traditional institutional investors remain active in the market, and remain focused on maturing spruce-dominated forests in the south and south-west, where bidding remains very strong, the report also notes new investors coming into the market, perhaps attracted by the widely reported increase in timber prices. The Forestry Commission reported a rise in standing timber prices of more than 30% in 2018, partly driven by the weak pound but also by demand for raw material and signiﬁcant investment by UK processors. The increase in demand from UK processors as well as the newer biomass industry shows little sign of abating in the short term. With new buyers seeking to enter the market and an increasing demand for product, the availability of forest properties coming to market may remain constrained, especially if existing owners take a longer view based on the last 10 years’ performance (15.7% total return, MSCI IPD, 2018) and the apparent recalculation of timber values to more realistic levels given the worldwide demand for timber and the UK’s reliance on imports. In such a market it may seem diﬃcult to ﬁnd where the value lies. For the institutional investor and those driven solely by returns, the value remains in spruce-dominated forests to the south and south-west where competition between bidders grows ever more ﬁerce. Individuals with wider objectives can still ﬁnd value further north where competition, while strong, has traditionally been less frenetic. Forests established in the late 1980s in the north and west of Scotland are now entering the harvesting of this ﬁrst rotation, with owners now
beneﬁting from much improved timber prices. With the tightening market for purely commercial forest properties and with mid-range properties still coming to the market, there may be value in focusing on those woodlands which provide both investment opportunities and a wider range of objectives and amenity. With careful attention to detail, opportunities for crop improvement and enhancing amenity in the next rotation can provide both ongoing interest for new owners and future value. Forest creation is also increasingly an option for new entrants. Given the strength of the forestry market and the Scottish Government’s renewed support for the industry, there has been an increase in the development and creation of new forests, with national targets for tree planting being met for the ﬁrst time since their introduction in 2011. Finding suitable sites and gaining the necessary approval can be a time-consuming process and it is not helped by continuing uncertainty over the prospects for grant funding to aid planting. But the next few years could see opportunities in this sector for those with the patience to create their own woodland. In the current climate, those wishing to dispose of forests are strongly advised to test the market through marketing their property widely. Potential purchasers should be ready to act quickly, and it is important that there is a clear understanding of the make-up of individual properties compared to those recently sold when considering value. Those seeking to purchase would also do well to take advice in gaining a detailed assessment of potential income and expenditure over the lifetime of the investment. For both new investors and owners looking to sell an appraisal of the forest with some detailed scenario planning of the felling and restocking options is a vital tool in planning how best to proceed.
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When it’s time for traditional motive power Scotland has only two horse loggers. Paul Schoﬁeld meets one of them.
the role of forestry contractors is central to delivering high quality forestry management. Without them, management plans and grant applications would sit uselessly on the shelf gathering dust – we need contractors to help us turn our plans into reality. Andrew Whitaker of Strathearn Horse Logging describes the service he oﬀers and the relevance of this most traditional
of activities in a modern forestry context. He has been a professional horse logger for 10 years and is based in Crieﬀ.
I have just changed horses and now have a Belgian-bred Ardenner weighing in at over 800kg. The perfect logging horse is built like a tank, with short legs and isn’t too tall. The equipment I use varies greatly depending on the location and the job. For large volume removals of small diameter logs I use a sledge and the horse can move about 1.5 tonnes at a time with this method. I also use a logging arch to keep logs clean but the favoured method with horse loggers all over the world is just to hook up and drag sticks along the ground. This is the fastest method but not always the most appropriate in the wet Scottish climate. Most of my work is in Perthshire and Argyll but I will travel wherever the work takes me. My interest in horse logging is not about playing with a horse but in providing high quality forestry management and a horse is the
most environmentally sensitive tool for the job. In terms of beneﬁts, the proof is in the pudding. Three months after we leave a wood, it is normally diﬃcult to ﬁnd any evidence that we have been there at all. This is partly due to minimal ground damage and also the fact that no racks have to be cut through woods when working a good horse. This method can also prove to be a really cost eﬀective alternative to using machinery – not in all cases but especially in smaller woodlands. For the cost of unloading a modern forwarder a horse will have done two days work! Horses really come into their own during thinnings, especially where the ground or access is diﬃcult. People are often amazed at the steepness of some of the ground we work on and as we are not oil polluting, we can work next to and occasionally even in water. A typical day will see us start at 8am and work three shifts of two to three hours with short breaks between them; this obviously changes depending on just how hard the work is – for man and
beast. If we have a lot of heavy sticks (700kg upwards) then we may have to ﬁnish at 1pm but the tonnage may be much higher with a longer day on lighter sticks. The future should be positive but in practice work can be hard to come by. It's a skill people see as quaint and oldfashioned but I have outdone many a machine on more than one occasion. The second issue is that there are only two of us in Scotland oﬀering a true professional horse logging service so most people don't even know that it’s an option. Still, as word slowly spreads I remain hopeful!
If you would like to explore horse logging as an option in your woodlands, please get in touch with Paul Schoﬁeld at Galbraith in Perth or contact Andrew Whitaker direct at andrewwhitaker firstname.lastname@example.org
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Flight fantastic: getting the best from drone technology Unmanned aerial vehicles can provide a vast amount of data for those involved in forestry. James Bunyan looks at the possibilities.
theRe are many technological tools that foresters can call upon, but perhaps the newest one to become widely available is the unmanned aerial vehicle (uaV) or drone. In the UK, the use of drones in a commercial context requires operators to have a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The CAA have strict requirements for operators and require a detailed operations manual to be produced, along with evidence of competency through suitable training and experience to ensure they are safe to operate, before PfCOs are issued.
expensive units typically used from ground based positions or in manned aircraft. Recent advances have produced LiDAR units of a size and mass that can be ﬂown using UAVs. LiDAR has particularly useful applications in forestry as in many cases it can ‘see’ through the tree canopy enabling both canopy and ground level to be accurately mapped. LiDAR remains an expensive solution and the quality of standard sensors and photogrammetry software is often more than suﬃcient for most forestry purposes.
high quality data Whether you are a planner in the oﬃce or a contractor on a forwarder, foresters are always working in a geospatial environment. Access to contemporary data at a relevant resolution oﬀers far more than just having a high resolution version of Google Earth.
Drones broadly fall into two categories, ﬁxed wing and multi-rotor, each with advantages and disadvantages. Multi-rotor drones oﬀer greater manoeuvrability, are simpler to operate and are less expensive but are limited in their ﬂight time and therefore the amount of area they can capture imagery from in a single ﬂight. Fixed wing drones use forward motion to create lift and as such can ﬂy for signiﬁcantly longer enabling larger areas to be mapped.
Additional data products available during the orthomosaic generation workﬂow, include high resolution digital elevation models, production of contour maps and 3D models.
Regulations are likely to change over the coming months and years, with recent alterations including mandatory registration and increased restricted airspace around airports following the major drone incident at Gatwick Airport in December last year.
Leading professional photogrammetry software will enable outputs to be used within Geographic Information System (GIS) and potentially Computer-aided Design (CAD) environments and this is where the data collected from UAVs becomes valuable for foresters.
orthomosaics The principal use of UAVs in the forestry sector is currently for the production of high resolution orthomosaics. An orthomosaic is a photogrammetrically orthorectiﬁed image produced from many single images to provide a seamless mosaic dataset which has been corrected for geometric distortions. Obtaining good quality images is the key to obtaining high quality orthomosaic outputs. Even ‘prosumer’ drones now support good quality cameras but mission planning and an understanding of the photogrammetric process is also key.
Using either in-house GIS systems or through GIS consultants, UAV data can be used to extract, analyse and model a wide range of information which can be used for an increasing array of applications in the forestry sector including: mapping: At the most basic level UAVs can map sites at high resolution (down to 1-2cm ground sampling distance), great accuracy (centimetre accuracy in relative and absolute terms) and timeliness (including multiple ﬂights to monitor change over days, months or years). These can be used for many purposes from baselines for longterm site management to monitoring of harvesting operations.
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a remote sensing technology where the environment is scanned with a pulsed laser beam and the reﬂection time of the signal from the object back to the detector is measured.
Precision forest planning: High resolution baseline data enables detailed assessments of existing habitats, infrastructure and other constraints. This resolution is not restricted to the x and y. The detailed digital elevation models can be interrogated using GIS to provide maps of slope angle allowing machinery and logistics planning to be better informed.
Historically these have been large and very
monitoring: Regular ﬂights over sites can provide
light Detection and Ranging
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information on tree health, growth rates and stocking density. Further advances in computer learning can also provide automated counting of early crops. Use of LiDAR in conjunction with photogrammetry can provide detailed information about canopy heights and productivity. Disease detection and monitoring can be achieved through using both RGB and multispectral sensors. harvesting: Regular UAV ﬂights as frequent as every few days can provide a register of harvesting progress. In addition data obtained from UAVs can be used to measure timber stockpiles, assist in drainage management and ensure harvesting is in line with forest plans. Insurance: Fire and wind throw damage can be quickly and accurately assessed with detailed information available for assessors.
advertising, acquisition and planning Top left: Ground prep orthomosiac. Top right: Baseline DSM with DTM contours. – Sample image. Below: Restocking assessment.
As well as orthomosaic production UAVs can be used for standard photography and videography purposes which may also be valuable for advertising, acquisition and planning purposes. Fixed-point aerial photography may also be vital for planning applications and these could be further backed up with full 3D models of proposals in support of visual and landscape assessments. The UAV is an incredibly useful tool for collecting data, but the key to successfully adopting UAVs in the forestry sector is to use that data eﬀectively to reduce costs, increase accuracy and decrease risks. How the sector does this will depend on the collaboration of forest practitioners, contractors, UAV service providers and geospatial scientists.
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galbraithgroup.com | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | Page 11
Working out what a woodland is worth The value of woodland varies widely across the UK. Philippa Cliﬀ explains some of the factors involved.
ultimately better quality and higher volume of timber coming out of the plantation at maturity. Altitude and aspect will also aﬀect growth and quality. Timber mensuration data is collected during a valuation inspection to help guide the valuer as to growth rates and standing volume.
IN ReceNt times, investment in forestry has seen a seismic rise in popularity.
Established investors are competing with new entrants to secure the limited supply of forests coming to the market. So what makes a good forestry investment, and what factors inﬂuence value in the forestry sector?
commercial woodlands Commercial woodlands dominate the woodland sales market. Compared to native woodlands, commercial plantations oﬀer an opportunity for future income via thinning and felling. Woodlands that are managed commercially also oﬀer signiﬁcant tax advantages, including any proﬁt made being tax free, and any gains on the value of the timber being exempt from capital gains tax. Providing a commercial woodland has been owned for two years or more, it can be inherited free of inheritance tax by using business property relief. Coupled with the current strong timber market, these reliefs add to the appeal of commercial forestry.
Species composition Not all commercial woodlands have the same value. The species composition of the forest is critical. In Scotland, the strongest demand from mills tends to be for Sitka spruce. However, with pests and diseases in mind, it is sensible to have a degree of diversity in a woodland, so a proportion of redwoods such as Scots pine and Douglas ﬁr can be advantageous. At the other end of the market, Lodgepole pine has traditionally been viewed as being of lower value, but increasing investment from processors and a subsequent rise in demand, mean even Lodgepole pine dominated properties have secured a place in the market.
Soil type Soil type is critical to the productivity of a woodland, providing trees with water, nutrients and root anchorage. Soil pH also inﬂuences growth, the ideal range being 5.5 to 6.5. Soil structure is also important in relation to water holding capacity and ideally the pore space in soil should be 50% air and 50% water. It is impractical for a valuer to test soils to this level, but much of Scotland’s soils have been mapped in detail and data is available online or from incumbent forest managers. Soil types vary hugely across Scotland, which is one reason why we see such huge variation between plantation values from South to North. Better soils result in a better yield class and
Shipping a 750-tonne crop of timber by sea rather than overland on fragile roads proved to have many advantages. Willie Beattie reports.
As well as the science behind species choice and soil type, practical issues can have a signiﬁcant eﬀect on value. Access and haulage routes are vital, both within the woodland and on public roads. Public routes leading to forests are generally categorised either as agreed routes, consultation routes, severely restricted routes or excluded routes by the Timber Transport Forum and the local authority. Any water crossings internally or on public roads can also inﬂuence value depending on bridge availability and weight limits.
Pests and diseases A number of pests and diseases have troubled the forestry industry in recent years. Well-known culprits include dothistroma needle blight, pinewood nematode and phytophthora ramorum to name but a few. Valuers will look for evidence of disease, and make valuation adjustments accordingly.
Native woodlands Although commercial woodlands dominate the market, there is growing interest in the amenity and conservation beneﬁts of native woodlands. Native woodlands tend to be of lower value than their commercial counterparts, due to their reduced potential for thinning and felling income, but nonetheless can command strong values especially when packaged with residential, sporting or lifestyle opportunities. Native woodlands are less likely to be aﬀected by access and haulage limitations.
Bare land values The value of bare land for woodland creation has soared in recent years thanks to rising worldwide demand for timber and new planting grants, Again, the value is aﬀected by the type of forestry it will support. Reference will then be made to the grant income available, coupled with any future harvesting income from the plantation itself. The advent of the Woodland Carbon Code oﬀers an additional avenue for revenue, both for commercial and native woods. It has been said before that valuation is an art and not a science, and experience plays a large part in accurately determining value. The popularity of forestry as an investment is growing, and therefore accurate valuations are more important than ever to support this burgeoning industry and give purchasers comfort in their acquisitions.
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Page 12 | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | galbraithgroup.com
Loading in progress at Kinlochbervie harbour.
Sea change: finding a new way to transport timber the £1bn timber industry in Scotland is a huge boon for the economy with approximately 9 million tonnes of timber harvested every year. The sector has recognised the need for sustainable transport planning, with a modal shift to sea being the obvious choice on the west of Scotland due to its proximity to the Irish Sea and associated lochs and waterways. In many coastal areas of Scotland the road networks are fragile and commonly have restrictions on heavy haulage. This is especially true in the north-west Highlands where many of the roads are built over peat and were never designed for 44-tonne traﬃc. Tourism adds to the volume of traﬃc and the great success of the NC500 has its own impact on the carriageways. Many of the north western woodlands we manage are also distant from markets, 80 to 120 miles being a norm. Despite greatly increased market values of both chipwood and sawlog material, road haulage puts a big dent in the proﬁt margins. In 2018 we were harvesting a mature timber crop within 10 miles of the Kinlochbervie harbour. Kinlochbervie is on the 58th latitude and about as far north and west as you can get – it is more used to ﬁshing boats than
timber vessels but ﬁts the modal shift strategy well. The harbourmaster was generally positive about timber cargo moving out through the pier. The ﬁshing and salmon farming vessels would have priority as they depended on regular use of the landing facilities but a suﬃcient window existed for our timber vessel. The next step was to make contact with Great Glen Shipping, and fortunately they were looking for a ‘return load’ in November after shipping 1,200 tonnes of road salt to the harbour. We also contracted a reliable road haulier in AMAX with experience of working to the tight deadlines required to turn the vessel around without unnecessary delays to catch the tide. Next came managing the logistics of the operation and the supply of a bespoke crane. John Scott Transport (JST) have experience of working with Highland Council Harbourmasters and also work in partnership with Great Glen Shipping. Neil Stoddart of JST organised the stacking protocols, risk assessments and made sure all the relevant documentation was completed. With everything in place all we had to do at our end was get 750 tonnes to the pier head in two
days, which AMAX achieved with two wagons and no fuss. The JST crane operators coped well with loading limitations to the approval of the harbourmaster. The mixed cargo of larch cladding logs, bespoke large spruce logs, and biomass left us on a Thursday morning and was at dockside in Mostyn, North Wales, on the Saturday for unloading to added value markets. Our ﬁrst experience of shipping went well and although the proﬁt margins were a little diﬀerent for us we are conﬁdent that with experience we can improve on this. At present, discussions are under way with Scottish sawmills about sea transportation from Kinlochbervie, which should prove to be very eﬃcient and make our more diﬃcult forest areas marketable. We estimate a reduction in road miles with this operation of close to 7,000 miles and our ability to deliver timber to more specialist new markets has really opened up. The associated impact on air quality, noise, visual amenity and a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should not be overlooked. firstname.lastname@example.org 01463 245 388
galbraithgroup.com | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | Page 13
Climate change an important factor in forest plan decisions Paul Schoﬁeld describes the creation of a new area of commercial woodland on one of the country’s great estates.
the mellerstain estate forest plan is about to enter its third year with clear felling, thinning and restocking now well under way.
summers. Although this pathogen rarely results in tree death, it can signiﬁcantly reduce productivity in stands of spruce and is present at Mellerstain.
The plan considered ways to diversify species composition and long-term productivity through restructuring without diminishing the contribution of Scots pine to the character of Mellerstain’s historic landscape.
Taking climate into account, consideration was given to which species might provide a more productive alternative to Scots pine on less visually prominent sites. Sitka spruce is particularly suited to damper sites but potentially susceptible to drought damage on lighter, well drained soils. In the past, the most common alternatives to Sitka spruce and Scots pine have been larch and Douglas ﬁr. Unfortunately, with the onset and spread of the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, the larches are no longer viable as commercial species.
At the same time, an area of underperforming arable land adjacent to existing woodland was identiﬁed as suitable for aﬀorestation. The forest plan also examined the potential longterm eﬀects of climate change. Forest Research models predict that the climate will become drier and storms more frequent and intense in eastern Scotland over the next 50 years. This is likely to increase the risk of drought damage in susceptible species such as Sitka spruce as well as the potential for wind damage. The risk from pests and diseases is also likely to increase as the climate becomes drier and warmer. For example, the green spruce aphid Elatobium abietinum has become increasingly common in south-east Scotland in recent years and has been linked to the succession of drier
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Douglas ﬁr is capable of producing high quality timber comparable to hardwoods in terms of usability. Compared to other conifer species, however, it is one of the most exacting in terms of site conditions and grows best on sheltered sites with deep, well drained soils of at least moderate fertility. It is highly drought resistant but also susceptible to wind damage. The proposed new planting site, situated on a sheltered south facing slope, is well suited to
Douglas ﬁr with fertile, free draining soils and a root-able depth in excess of 40cm. The site was deer and rabbit fenced before being planted in the spring. Ground preparation consisted of spraying oﬀ weed growth with glyphosate following last year’s harvest and sub-soiling at two-metre centres to alleviate compaction from ploughing. Trees were planted straight into the lines left by the sub-soiler. The site will require regular weeding until the trees are established. However, Douglas ﬁr tends to develops dense lower branch growth that rapidly shades out surrounding vegetation. In addition to Douglas ﬁr, secondary species include Norway spruce and a small element of native broadleaves were planted as required under the UK Forest Standard. The site was fenced by James Cheyne of Burgh Fencing and planted by David Telford, both based in Selkirk. The cell-grown planting stock was supplied by Alba Trees in nearby Haddington. Overall, this scheme extends to a little under 20 hectares and will produce a high-quality timber crop within the next 60 years, helping to enhance the diversity and long-term productivity of the Mellerstain woodlands.
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The value of forest certification Louise Alexander looks at how an assessment is made and the beneﬁts it may bring. moRe and more people are interested in where products come from, how they are made and their impact on the world around them. This means eco-credentials and sustainability are playing a bigger role in consumers’ and businesses’ decisions about what they buy. Similar views can be taken when it comes to forestry management. Forest management certiﬁcation conﬁrms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves the natural ecosystems and beneﬁts the lives of local people and workers, all while ensuring it sustains economic viability. In the UK there are two forest certiﬁcation schemes run by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certiﬁcation (PEFC). Both schemes have endorsed the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) as the benchmark for compliance and award of certiﬁcation. Forests can be assessed independently or, to achieve cost savings, by joining a group scheme. UK Forest Certiﬁcation Ltd (UKFCG) is one such group which has provided forest certiﬁcation for several Galbraith managed forests. Working with professional forest managers, and directly with some owners, UKFCG’s 150 members’ forests total more than 60,000 hectares located between Cornwall, Kent and Caithness. Most of the forests are in Scotland where demand for certiﬁcation is highest. Direct beneﬁts from forest certiﬁcation include higher prices for timber and access to markets with faster uplift of timber from the forest. The certiﬁcation audit process also provides forest managers and owners with an independent assessment of compliance with the law, forestry codes of practice and guidelines. Assessment subjects include health and safety, training and contractor qualiﬁcations, environmental impact of forest operations – including wildlife, habitats, archaeological features, soil and water protection. UKFCG is the only independent certiﬁcation group in the UK with no direct management responsibility for forest
operations or timber marketing, an independent approach which is valued by an ever-increasing number of owners and independent management companies. Its two directors undertake all audits of member’s forests and share their decades of forest management and certiﬁcation experience with the forest managers. Following a brief initial assessment, which aims to reveal any potential areas of non-conformity that could prevent certiﬁcation, the evaluation process consists of an in-depth review of forest management plans, processes and their environmental, social, and economic impact. Membership of UKFCG and conﬁrmation of certiﬁcation codes is conﬁrmed following stakeholder consultation and depending on the number and scale of any corrective actions that may be required.
Direct beneﬁts from forest certiﬁcation include higher prices for timber.
UKFCG provides ongoing support for forest owners and managers in the form of brieﬁng notes, periodic newsletters, templates for record keeping and advice on forest management procedures and policies. Exchanges of information and ideas from forest managers throughout the UK is another, often hidden, beneﬁt of membership. Phil Webb, one of UKFCG’s directors, ﬁrst had contact with Galbraith foresters in the Perth oﬃce 10 years ago. In recent years more Galbraith managed forests from the Inverness oﬃce have joined UKFCG. Phil has found the consistent approach adopted by the Galbraith forestry team has enabled certiﬁcation to be achieved without diﬃculty. Well-prepared long term forest plans accompanied by good quality forest maps and a thorough approach to monitoring and record keeping demonstrated by all Galbraith’s foresters is the key to success.
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galbraithgroup.com | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | Page 15
Combined business expands in forestry sector Athole McKillop explains some of the beneﬁts of Land Factor’s merger with Galbraith. at the time of writing, we are just days into the merger of land Factor with Galbraith. I look forward with great enthusiasm to the opportunities this brings for our combined operations in the rural sector across Scotland and Northern England, particularly in terms of forestry and woodland management, creation and investment. I graduated from Aberdeen University with a forestry degree in the mid-1980s. With a wider interest in land management I decided to join a rural surveying ﬁrm rather than the then popular route to one of the large forestry businesses that existed at the time or the Forestry Commission. Following a few years in Crieﬀ, Perthshire and after qualifying with the Institute of Chartered Foresters and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, I moved south to Cumbria in the early 1990s. I operate across various aspects of rural management and professional work, but my passion and speciality has remained in the forestry sector. To this end I have been actively involved with Confor for many years, both locally and nationally, currently as chair of the board. I was joined by Russell Porter, also a graduate of Aberdeen University, in the late 1990s after he had spent a year with another large ﬁrm of rural surveyors. Russell has worked with Land Factor and our predecessor businesses supporting our forestry and estate clients up to our merger with Galbraith and shares my enthusiasm and optimism for future developments as part of the combined business. He has a particular interest in managing contract operations including signiﬁcant harvest programmes, restocking and new woodland creation alongside a self taught skill in data management via GIS and associated databases. Our bases in Penrith, Cumbria and the former Land Factor head oﬃce in Hexham, have allowed us to serve a varied client base. Our work includes very varied estate woodlands, large and
New partners: From left, back row: Roddy Findlay, Athole McKillop and Peter Combe. Front row: Galbraith head of energy Mike Reid, Tom Warde-Aldam, Galbraith chairman Iain Russell and senior associate Matthew Williamson.
small, as well as commercial forestry investment properties on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall. Traditionally we have focused on forestry management as our core oﬀering. Alongside this we have undertaken many smaller scale woodland creation projects. Our geographic knit with Galbraith is an obvious one and many of the forestry professional skills and oﬀerings of both business overlap, be that day-to-day management operations or the use of technology such as GIS and drones. The opportunities for carbon to form part of a forestry investment oﬀering, not just in terms of the limited corporate social responsibility funding or the recognition of carbon as part of the general public services and beneﬁts oﬀered by forestry, is being explored by Galbraith. Although it is still early days since the introduction of the Woodland Carbon Code we look forward to sharing thoughts and ideas on how this may be developed as part of the investment opportunity. Woodland and forestry creation has moved to levels unseen for decades in Scotland. The wide beneﬁts the forestry sector contributes to the rural economy of Scotland have been highlighted by Confor in recent years. This has been picked up by Holyrood and signiﬁcant changes to the approach and process of dealing with new planting schemes have ensued. Scotland’s Forestry Strategy, prepared under the focused eye of Fergus Ewing, should set a path to steer for the sector to continue the success and development of our industry over coming years. This should protect against future changes in government priorities derailing the progress of the sector.
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We have been exploring the new opportunities this has opened up and as a wider business we see the ability to develop this further. South of the border the Westminster Government, despite much enthusiasm about what forestry and woodlands oﬀer, has failed to deliver any signiﬁcant changes in terms of new productive woodland planting although we are beginning to see a limited upturn. It is early days, but work is progressing on the Forestry Investment Zone (FIZ) pilot in north-east Cumbria. Many accept that the location of this pilot is not ideal, but we can learn from it and we are taking an active interest. There is enthusiasm for FIZ’s to be developed in north-east England and in the southwest. We are optimistic that these will present opportunities to ease the way forward for woodland creation opportunities as these develop. The forestry sector oﬀers great opportunities both for those already involved in it and for new entrants, be they young people wanting a fantastic career, existing farmers and landowners wanting to diversify and hedge against the inevitable reduction in rural subsidies or investors wanting to capture a part of a highly performing market with positive environmental credentials. At Galbraith there is a strong and expanded team of forestry professionals who will be very pleased to discuss opportunities with you, and I am very pleased to be part of that team.
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Scotland’s Forestry Strategy: a clear ambition by Eleanor Harris. ScotlaND’S Forestry Strategy came into force on april 1, 2019, along with two new delivery agencies: Scottish Forestry (grants and regulations) and Forestry and land Scotland (national forest estate). Together, these form the key elements of the new devolved arrangements for forestry in Scotland underpinned by the 2018 Forestry and Land (Scotland) Act.
NEW FORESTER jOINS THE TEAM OuR Inverness Galbraith forestry team welcomed a new member this year, Denis Torley. Denis has more than 20 years of professional forestry experience in both the private and regulatory sectors in the Highlands. Philippa Cliﬀ, head of forestry for Galbraith, said: “Denis will be a valuable asset to our team. In recent years Denis has been especially involved in forestry agency and investment purchases and in the creation of new woodlands for private clients. He is also an experienced negotiator in relation to Environmental Impact Assessments, mitigation arrangements, and consultancy agreements in the forestry and renewable energy Denis Torley. sectors. These are all of great relevance to our clients and we look forward to having him in the team.” Denis said: “I am delighted to be joining Galbraith, which has an enviable track record in the forestry sector and has gained a number of new clients over the past two years. “The industry is ﬂourishing and the Scottish government’s target of creating 10,000 hectares of new woodland was achieved in 2018 for the ﬁrst time. “There are signiﬁcant incentives to invest in woodlands, not least the rising global demand for timber both as a biofuel and in the construction sector, as well as the ﬁnite nature of uK wood ﬁbre supply. “Galbraith is well placed to assist those seeking to enter this high performing market.”
The strategy sets out a 10-year approach to expand, protect and enhance Scotland’s forests and woodlands, to deliver greater economic, social and environmental beneﬁts for current and future generations.
a long-term vision In the consultation, Confor welcomed the commitment in strategy to a long-term vision for forestry which should be sustained for at least the next 50 years. We also called for the strategy to say boldly and upfront that forestry is a good thing and that expanding the forest resource is a target of government. In the strategy as published, this is done in the ministerial foreword, which begins, ‘I have a clear ambition for forestry. I want Scotland to have more trees and woodlands’.
Independent voices Confor called for the establishment of an independent stakeholder panel to advise ministers on progress and delivery of the strategy, to ensure that future governments hear from across the whole sector: private and public, economic, environmental and social interests. We welcome the commitment in the strategy to establish such a panel, and to ‘partnership working… with private, public and third sector partners’ including ‘joint working with the UK Government and other UK devolved administrations’.
Filling the timber gap Confor asked for a recognition of the potential of short rotation forestry to satisfy demand for biomass and board. While this is not in the strategy, we will continue to make the case
for its importance as a component of delivering the strategy’s objective, ‘ensuring wood ﬁbre availability from Scotland’s forests and woodlands is predictable and increases over time.’
Developing silviculture Confor also called for recognition of the importance of sustaining a silvicultural thinning cycle for good forest management, as an essential element of management of both conifer and native broadleaf woodlands for economic, environmental and social beneﬁts. However, it is only recently that thinnings have been proﬁtable enough to return immediate ﬁnancial beneﬁt to the landowner, and the future market remains an uncertain basis to deliver long-term management. While there is a strong emphasis on ‘sustainable forest management’ in Scotland’s Forestry Strategy, this is largely envisaged in terms of adherence to the UK Forestry Standard for commercial conifers, and deer management for native broadleaves. Building on existing policies such as the Renewable Heat Incentive and Woodland Carbon Code, Confor would like to see the development of a policy framework promoting active forest management, particularly regular thinning, over the long term. This will enable all forests and woodlands to work equally hard to deliver multiple beneﬁts.
an exciting future In welcoming the launch of the strategy, Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, said: “There is an exciting future ahead for Scotland’s forestry and timber sector. It can help in the ﬁght against climate change and provides opportunities to diversify rural economies. “The sector has grown rapidly in the last 30 years and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government and other sectors in Scotland to realise further sustainable growth in the coming years and decades.”
Eleanor Harris is a policy researcher with Confor
galbraithgroup.com | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | Page 17
More threats to forest health The onslaught of new pests and diseases needs careful management, says Louise Alexander. moRe and more new pests and diseases are aﬀecting uK woodlands because of the increase in global trade and the eﬀects of climate change.
Recent threats to British forests include, clockwise from above left, the large pine weevil and the European spruce bark beetle.
It was ﬁrst described in 2007 in southern Argentina where it was killing trees of the native South American conifer species, Austrocedrus chilensis. Since then, it has also been found infecting individual amenity specimens of Lawson cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) and Nootka Cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) in Scotland. Reported hosts are all members of the cypress family (Cupressaceae). In 2011 it was reported in Great Britain for the ﬁrst time, and it is now known to be widely distributed on juniper trees in the Cairngorm region of Scotland and the Lake District in northern England.
A major part of our foresters’ work now involves preparing our clients’ woodlands for the future and designing them to try to ensure that they will be resilient against any new impacts. The large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis) is probably the most serious pest of newly planted or naturally regenerating woodland within restock sites across the UK. Without eﬀective control the losses can average 50%, with both broadleaves and conifers being attacked. Management prescriptions to address this problem include the use of pretreated planted stock using the Electrodyn method; a preference for selecting stock with a large root-collar diameter; the timing of planting operations to avoid peak insect emergence and feeding periods; regular site inspection during projected periods of weevil activity; and the reactive spraying of insecticide.
The Native Woodland Survey of Scotland identiﬁed 1,482 hectares containing juniper scrub across Scotland. Common juniper is recognised as vulnerable, because its extent and condition have declined considerably since about 1990, especially on upland sites, where its importance is tied in with nature conservation and game management.
The larger eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) is considered a serious pest on spruce in Europe and has recently been found in the wider environment in England. It is mainly a secondary pest, preferring stressed or weakened trees. However, in the right conditions beetle numbers can increase enough to result in attacks on healthy trees. Left uncontrolled, the beetle, in association with pathogenic fungi (particularly the blue stain fungus Endoconidiophora polonica), can cause signiﬁcant damage to Britain’s sprucebased forestry and timber industries. To protect the country against this pest, a Plant Health Order was introduced in January 2019 to restrict the movement of conifer material in parts of Kent and East Sussex. Acute oak decline (AOD) is a relatively new disease in Britain mainly aﬀecting native oak trees. It is most prevalent on English or pedunculate oak (Quercus robur) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea). Aﬀected trees have vertical, weeping ﬁssures that seep black ﬂuid down the trunk. These are known as stem bleeds, and In the live tissue beneath them a lesion is formed. This is a sign of tissue
decay. Some trees die four to six years after the onset of symptoms. The disease aﬀects mostly mature trees aged over 50 years but has recently been found on younger trees of 10 to 12 cm diameter. AOD is spreading rapidly across England and has recently been found in the Welsh borders. Forest Research has begun to investigate the causes of the disease in order to develop an eﬀective management strategy. In the meantime they recommend that if only a limited number of trees appear to be infected on a site and most are of the same oak species, it may be prudent to fell and destroy them to reduce the risk of infecting healthy trees and to keep inoculum levels low. The aggressive fungus-like pathogen Phytophera austrocedri is infecting juniper at a large number of upland woodland sites in northern Britain and causing dieback and mortality.
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Juniper is also a key food plant for a wide range of invertebrates and birds, and it has a unique group of associated insects, fungi and lichens. P. austrocedri primarily attacks juniper roots, killing phloem and forming lesions which extend up into the lower stem. Eventually the tree will be killed by girdling of the main stem. P. austrocedri is a notiﬁable pathogen and suspected cases should be reported to the plant health authorities. The FC has advised that in healthy juniper populations, and in areas where planting is not urgently needed or where natural regeneration is feasible, planting nursery stock juniper should currently be avoided wherever possible. Galbraith is working closely with the FC and Forest Research to monitor all our clients’ woodlands for signs of pest or disease impact. We are also implementing robust management programmes to minimise or contain any outbreak.
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Cleaner air: a burning issue for wood fire users The Government is cracking down on woodburning stoves, but how will this aﬀect renewable heating and the emerging wood fuel industry? asks Denis Torley.
I, FoR oNe, was clutching my pearls in dismay at recent reports of an imminent ban on woodburning stoves, both as a forester and a rural dweller who relies on ﬁrewood as a primary source of heat. Was this yet another chimera born from unfounded urban anxieties? The reports arise from the recently launched Clean Air Strategy, which has some surprising, and alarming, numbers behind it. The strategy aims to reduce the estimated 36,000 annual deaths blamed on breathing polluted air. Experts warn that woodburning stoves and open ﬁres are now the biggest source of outdoor particulate omissions, at 38%, compared with 16% from industrial processes and 12% from road transport. The UK Government wishes to reduce particulate emissions by 30% by 2020 and 46% by 2030, with an estimated saving of £5.3 billion a year from 2030. Air pollution is increasingly understood as the single greatest environmental threat to human health, with the most vulnerable being hardest hit. Woodburning stoves, and the fuel they use, will come under greater scrutiny. The UK government seems ready to legislate to ensure that only the most eﬃcient stoves and cleanest domestic fuels will be available for sale. Air quality is a devolved matter and the Scottish Government is currently reviewing its strategy, looking at how to further mitigate the impact of air pollution. It seems likely that this review will come to similar conclusions as the UK strategy. About 10% of UK homes (2.5 million) have an open ﬁre or a wood-burning stove. The government seems ready to
under-managed woods are providing a source of woodfuel.
pass on the powers of any enforcement ban to local authorities. Urban areas look most at risk. It is estimated that between a quarter and a third of all of London particulate pollution comes from domestic ﬁres. In January 2018 they contributed half of such emissions in some areas of the capital, according to Kings College research. Rural areas are considered at lower risk both from pollution and subsequent enforcement. According to the Stove Alliance Industry, domestic stove installation has been running at close to 200,000 a year. Anyone with stoves which have been approved for use in smoke control areas, or who has an “eco design ready” model, would appear to be still able to use it. While stove technology has improved greatly, and continues to improve eﬃciency in clean burning, it is thought only 12% of existing domestic stoves conform to the latest standards.
Air pollution is increasingly understood as the single greatest environmental threat to human health.
It is hard to know whether this has been exacerbated by recent policy. The Renewable Heating Incentive 5, announced in the UK in 2011, signiﬁcantly increased demand for wood fuel and has revolutionised the renewable heating sector. This in turn has helped to bring smaller, neglected woodlands into management, with the domestic market for logs being helping to fund woodland improvement for smaller owners. This growth of course is very positive for the wood fuel industry, but will the Clean Air Strategy and supporting legislation threaten this market? It seems that the quality of wood fuel plays an important role in air quality in
both existing and new appliances. For example, burning wet wood is ineﬃcient as it demands a lot of heat to boil oﬀ the water before appliances can give out the proper level of heat. The latest models of stoves burning dry wood will produce a fraction of the particulates of an open ﬁre burning wet logs. Thankfully the Government has noted this in its publication. Properly seasoned wood should have a moisture content of 20% or less. One politically easy measure could be to ban the sale of the wood that does not have the “ready to burn logo” from Woodsure, a woodfuel certiﬁcation scheme. This may see a reduction in availability of poorer quality logs. It would however place a burden on small log providers to become “Woodsure approved”, at a cost of £400. Such a ban may also see an increase in demand for briquettes or heat logs made from timber co-products. These have a moisture content of about 8%. Some ﬁrewood providers are also investing in having their product kiln dried to ensure that its moisture content falls below 20%. Those of us who rely on ﬁrewood have long understood the beneﬁt of using the driest logs, both for heat production and ease of maintenance of stoves and ﬂues. It is also an approach supported by ﬁre brigades everywhere. Wood fuel is an important and growing source of domestic heat and should continue to be an important part of the energy mix. The use of this fuel does have its issues, and perhaps in time the burning of wet wood will be considered an anti-social activity given the health risks. In the meantime it looks as if both appliances and fuel will continue to be regulated and therefore consumers, both urban and rural, should look to quality both for eﬃciency and wider health beneﬁts.
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galbraithgroup.com | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | Page 19
Road to success: the rewards of a 12-year investment Hamish Robertson details the management strategy that led to an excellent return for one forestry investor.
almoSt 12 years ago I received a call from a prospective client who was interested in purchasing a woodland as a forestry investment. He instructed us to value a number of properties and in 2009 was successful in the purchase of Barmark Hill Forest, near Corsock in Dumfries and Galloway. Barmark is a 237-hectare commercial plantation, which at the time comprised 90% Sitka spruce and 4% Japanese larch, all planted between 1984 and 1985. It had an existing right of access and 2,700 metres of forest road within it. Although the access road was not suitable for commercial timber haulage purposes and part of it was across third party land, the title reserved the right to upgrade the road to the standard required for timber haulage. Shortly after purchase we were delighted to be instructed to manage the property. Initial work involved maintenance to boundary dykes and scrub clearance from the forest road. Following this a timber measurement survey was undertaken which showed that the yield class range for the Sitka spruce was 6 to 20 with most of the crop within the 14 to 18 range. Having considered the survey ﬁndings, in consultation with our client, we decided it would be prudent to plan for timber harvesting to start around 2017. We prepared a long term forest plan and in February 2017 formal approval was given to fell 150 hectares in two phases between 2017 to 2026. To enable harvesting to proceed eﬃciently, a substantial road upgrade was going to be necessary, and we needed to make sure that the
The economy of scale and robust road infrastructure were major advantages when marketing this timber. upgrade was ﬁt for purpose. We engaged an experienced forestry civil engineer to inspect the access roads and advise on suitable upgrade speciﬁcations. We were reasonably conﬁdent that the site geology was such that we could win suitable rock for the roadworks within the site and the engineer conﬁrmed this. At this early stage we also consulted with the adjacent landowners to keep them fully informed of our proposals and both parties were very cooperative all the way through the process. Before work could start we had to apply for formal planning consent to upgrade the bellmouth access at the public road junction and prior approval for the necessary upgrade works to the access road and forest road. The Forestry Commission had previously conﬁrmed that an Environmental Impact Assessment would not be required for the roadworks.
Page 20 | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | galbraithgroup.com
Unfortunately, during our meeting with the civil engineer we noticed that the larch had become infected with Phytopthora ramorum, a fungal disease that eventually kills larch. We revised our work speciﬁcations to incorporate biosecurity protocols. Although this was a signiﬁcant concern, this region of south-west Scotland had already been declared a “management zone”. Timber marketing restrictions and haulage movement licencing still applied, but statutory plant health notices did not. We put the roadworks out to tender to three local contractors and at a site meeting with all three contractors we agreed the best location for a blast to obtain rock for the road upgrade. By the time prices came in, we had obtained the necessary planning consents for the roadworks and the contract was duly awarded to GTR Contracts Ltd. We had to harvest just over a hectare of Sitka spruce from the borrow pit site before the blast could be carried out, and the timber was temporarily stacked out of the way of the impending roadworks. The roadworks began in August 2017. The formation was scraped to remove vegetation, side drains were cleaned out and silt traps installed at periodic intervals to reduce diﬀuse pollution risk. A blast and crush operation then followed to produce about 16,000 tonnes of crushed angular material. This enabled a saving of around £10 per tonne compared to importing road material from a commercial quarry. We were then ready to rock and roll. A Kirpy crusher was used along the main access track to provide ﬁner chipped material and a smoother running surface for the residents at Barmark house. A grader was used to camber the road and a vibrating roller consolidated the formation. Turning points and passing places were created where necessary. We project managed the road upgrade operation with the contractor, in compliance with CDM regulations and the main works were completed to a robust standard in November 2017. We communicated regularly with the neighbouring land owners whose access was aﬀected by the road upgrade and they were very helpful and tolerant. At the end of the job there was suﬃcient spare rock to allow for upgrading of the ﬁnal section of forest road at a later date. The timber that was harvested from the borrow pit site was dispatched to markets in November 2017 and the upgraded road stood up well to this test. In consultation with our client we decided that harvesting of the ﬁrst phase should start in 2018. To optimise value the timber would need to be certiﬁcated to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard. We began this process in April and were subsequently audited and achieved certiﬁed status on May 30, 2018. Concurrently we put the timber harvesting contract for the ﬁrst coupe (23 hectares) out to tender to seven timber harvesting companies. We received three oﬀers, two of which were very
Top left: Felling of phase 1 started in June 2018.
competitive. The contract was awarded to Scottish Woodlands and felling started in June 2018.
Top right: Kirpy crusher in action.
The harvesting and haulage operations proceeded without any problems. In view of the P. ramorum infection it was decided to fell all of the larch as part of the ﬁrst coupe. The harvesting was completed by the end of September and all timber had been uplifted by the end of November that same year.
Above: Rock crushing operation at the borrow pit.
The timber was tendered at a time when timber prices were at an all-time high, so yields were impressive. The infected wind-damaged larch generated income of £8,400 per hectare and the spruce yielded in excess of £30,000 per hectare. The economy of scale and robust road infrastructure were major advantages when marketing this timber. The road enabled timber lorries to travel right into the heart of the forest, thereby reducing extraction distances and costs.
Timber purchasers are more likely to oﬀer top prices when they can foresee that timber extraction and haulage is likely to be straightforward. Replanting is scheduled to start in 2019. Reﬂecting on the above at a time when timber prices and forestry property values are high, it would be no exaggeration to say that this client’s investment has grown at an interest rate that would easily exceed 10% even when taking account of expenditure subsequent to initial purchase. In addition to this he has reaped the rewards of the ﬁrst felling coupe and consolidated his access.
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galbraithgroup.com | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | Page 21
Eucalyptus: an overlooked alternative to Sitka spruce? Choosing resilient species is vital in a world of climate change, says Willie Beattie.
clImate change aﬀects us all, and sadly some of our most productive and iconic tree species, including larch and ash, are becoming more susceptible to disease during seasonal changes. If we make wrong species choices now it will take a lifetime to rectify our decisions. The fall-back productive species has become Sitka spruce but foresters across Scotland are beginning to consider other species. Sitka will remain a staple for the foreseeable future, but other viable species that will thrive in a plantation and produce a decent crop within a comparable lifespan must now be considered, particularly in the more silviculturally challenging areas of the north and western seaboard. During a search for alternative species, I was introduced to Bryan Elliot of Devon Forestry Consultants with a view to trialling eucalyptus species. My ﬁrst thought was that the only trial sites our clients had available were nutrientdeﬁcient, exposed and prone to frost, but Bryan assured me that he had eucalyptus varieties to suit almost all our site conditions. This spring we began to trial six varieties of eucalyptus on north-west coast sites with varying fertility, exposure levels and some without fence protection from deer. Each variety has diﬀering strengths and growth rates so it will be an interesting exercise to see what does well over the ﬁrst growing season. One of the primary species that establishes well and has great year-round growth characteristics is Eucalyptus glaucescens, a mountain plateau gum that tolerates temperatures as low as –18˚C, and once established within a plantation environment can withstand low temperatures over a long period. At the invitation of Ben Clinch of Darnaway Estate near Inverness, a small coupe of Eucalyptus glaucescens was planted within an existing mixed broadleaf/conifer forest. The trees are only 38 months old and were an average of 3.5 metres tall, the tallest being more than 6 metres. The spacing was relatively open with survival of the ﬁttest the main managerial criterion. The plugs were planted three years ago with no pre-plant preparation on a conifer cutover site and then as a speciﬁc eucalypt trial plot, it was left to its own devices. The spacing is currently in the region of 500 stems per hectare and though openly spaced, apical dominance traits are evident throughout. There are more than suﬃcient numbers and evenly spaced trees to establish a ﬁnal crop, and canopy closure will occur in at least a couple of years’ time. This trial has shown that once established,
Eucalyptus glaucescens is robust and has shown no sign of any frost inhibiting growth factors. The lack of grass competition control, post-planting, is the primary reason for the lack of successful tree numbers. Once established, survival has been consistent over the past few years with the recent cold weather and subsequent drought conditions over 2018 having no impact. Eucalypts, with their rapid growth rates and the relatively high caloriﬁc value of their timber, may be a promising alternative species for woodfuel/biomass production in the right conditions. It is a species entirely happy on many sites in Scotland and extensive establishment is being carried out on a number of locations in 2019. The eucalypts that thrive in Scotand are sourced from Tasmania and Victoria provenances which, in some regions, have a lower average annual temperature range than anywhere in the UK.
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Page 22 | Forestry matters | Summer 2019 | galbraithgroup.com
Eucalyptus glaucescen can tolerate temperatures as low as –18˚C.
See you at the shows! If you are going to any of the following events pop in to our marquee and meet up with the Forestry team – professionals from across the ﬁrm will be on hand for a chat. Galbraith Stirling Bull Sales: Sunday 5 and Monday 6 May. Fife Show: Saturday 18 May. Royal Highland Show: Thursday 20 June to Sunday 23 June. Game Fair at Scone: Friday 5 to Sunday 7 July. Great Yorkshire Show: Tuesday 9 to Thursday 11 July – Highland Cattle Society marquee. And look out for our teams networking at some of the following events. They will be easily identiﬁable as they will be wearing Galbraith gilets. Stop them for a chat! Northumberland County Show: Monday 27 May. Belsay Horse Trials, Northumberland: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June. Border Union Show: Friday 19 and Saturday 20 July. For a full list of events, visit www.galbraithgroup.com/events
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Scenes from summer 2018: The Galbraith marquee at Fife Show, the ﬁrm’s tug-of-war team in action at Scone – and Edinburgh rugby players taking on our hula-hoop challenge.
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