See­ing the wood from the trees

Country Smallholding - - In Focus - The SWA is look­ing for new mem­bers — in­clud­ing foresters and landown­ers — and would love to hear from any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing. For in­for­ma­tion, visit www. scot­tish­wood­lotas­so­ci­a­tion.co.uk; email: [email protected] scot­tish­wood­lotas­so­ci­a­tion.co.uk.

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

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