Seeing the wood from the trees
THE SCOTTISH Woodlot Association (SWA) is a co-operative group working in Scotland to allow foresters the opportunity to lease and manage their own forests. A small but growing organisation, the SWA has been setting up woodlots around Scotland since 2013.
The concept of woodlots is not new. Common in the United States in the days of family farming, they would allow people access to the forest for firewood, timber for buildings and wagons and harvestable crops, such as maple sap.
More recently, woodlots have gained in popularity in Canada, particularly in British Columbia where the seeds for the SWA were originally sown.
“We thought this was really interesting, particularly in Scotland, where it’s rare for people to have their own woodland, unlike in most European countries,” says SWA secretary Andy Brown. “Although we work on a different scale to BC, and so far in privately owned woodland rather than state land, there are still many similarities.”
In return for an annual payment, a woodlot licence allows the licence holder to cut an agreed quantity of timber on their woodlot each year under the Allowable Annual Cut. This is calculated according to the viable harvesting area and is part of the Woodlot Management Plan (WMP). The landowner gets their woodland managed and a fair rental income while the licence holder can freely cut timber for a variety of uses under the WMP. The amount is generally fairly modest — usually between 25-200 tonnes annually — but as a smallscale venture it should provide enough timber for firewood, sawn timber or for selling on to recoup licence costs.
The SWA represents members who are, or would like to be, licence holders, plus landowners, and those who host or would like to host woodlot licences. By offering the team’s expertise, the SWA facilitates connections between each party to help promote small-scale, sustainable forestry.
“We assist with the development of Woodlot Management Plans, with felling licences and we help to source trees and materials for restocking,” explains Andy. “We also assist with marketing and sawmilling. With many years experience of undertaking this style and scale of forestry in Scotland, we can show what works, particularly with the woodlot licences we already have up and running.”
In terms of success stories, the SWA can point to its five sites hosting woodlots around Scotland and the three sites currently up for grabs in Kincardine, Galloway and Aberdeenshire. Woodlot licences are held by a variety of foresters. One smallholder uses his woodlot for biomass, while another is held by a mobile sawmiller who sells sawn timber to local farmers. One slightly unusual example is a woodlot used as a base for horselogging training courses.
In return for an annual payment, a woodlot licence allows the holder to cut an agreed quantity of timber