Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Where Does Your Firewood Come From: Kielder Forest

The development of the British timber industry, using wood from Britain's forests to supply wood for sawmilling, chipboard, pulp as well as wood fuel customers has been a major success story.  As a result of major investments in processing capacity during the last 20 years, the industry has been independently estimated to provide over £7 billion annually to UK GDP, and directly employs some 167,000 people in growing, harvesting and processing trees across the UK.

Today we look at one of the country's main suppliers of wood, Kielder Forest, which annually supplies more than 475,000 cubic metres of timber for the wood industries.
The forest is owned and managed by the United Kingdom Forestry Commission, which initiated the first plantings in the 1920s. During the 1930s, the Ministry of Labour supplied men from among the ranks of the unemployed. Many came from the mining communities and shipyards of North East England. They were housed in one of a number of instructional centres created by the Ministry, most of them on Forestry Commission property; by 1938, the Ministry had 38 Instructional Centres across Britain. The hutted camp in Kielder is now under Kielder Water. Numerous purpose-built villages were also constructed for workers' families, including Stonehaugh.
Prior to the 1920s, the land was predominantly open moorland, managed for grouse shooting and sheep grazing with remnants of native upland woodland existing along stream sides and in isolated craggy areas. The Forestry Commission, funded from the public purse, purchased land across the country with the brief of establishing a strategic reserve of timber for the nation. This single objective held sway until the 1960s. Since that time, management principles have changed in order to reflect rising awareness of environmental needs and to provide recreational facilities whilst seeking to maintain a sustainable supply of timber. Kielder today remains state-owned and its development from a single-objective plantation to a multi-purpose forest mirrors the development of plantation forestry across the United Kingdom.
 Most of this volume comes from clearfelling areas (shown above right); an increasing percentage however is sourced from selective felling. Clear felled areas are replanted with a mix of coniferous and broadleaf tree species, opportunities are also taken to increase the proportion of open space and to improved the habitat. As with all Forestry Commission woodlands timber is independently certified under the Forest Stewardship Council scheme.
This responsible forest management ensures that your woodburning stove will always be topped up with wood and ensuring that there is a reduced impact on the environment.

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