Despite woodland accounting for a little more than 7% of England, 17% of Scotland and 14% of Wales, it hasn’t been much of an investment in recent times.
The fact that Surrey remains our most wooded county tells its own story. We still import 85% of our timber and wood products. However, there are some encouraging signs. Trees soak up carbon, so we need more of them-they also, as you may remember from your biology lessons, produce oxygen. They are good news. Even better, woodland is slowly beginning to find a real commercial value, thanks primarily to wood chips and the like.
Last week, in Kent, I visited a chestnut coppicing timber yard. It was rather wonderful. The chestnut grows on a 14-year rotation, requires no chemical treatment to make fence posts and, due to its high tannin content, will last for about 40 years. Moreover, as well as growing and ridding the world of carbon dioxide, it plays hosts to bluebells, slow worms, woodcock and various other species.
The good news is that it is a viable business once more. We can all play a part in buying more British wood-it really is that rare occasion where everyone’s a winner.
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