United Kingdom - Forestry

The estimated total area of woodland in 2001 was 2.79 million hectares (6.89 million acres), or over 10% of Great Britain's land area. Roughly 40% of the area is in England, 49% in Scotland, and 11% in Wales. State-owned forests cover 33% of the forest area, and 67% are in the private sector. The principal species in the forest area are spruces (34%), pines (22%), oak (9%) and larch (8%), with smaller amounts of beech, ash, birch, and fir. The lumber industry employs about 55,000, and supplies the United Kingdom with 13% of its timber demand. Because of the high proportion of unproductive woodland, largely a legacy of overfelling during the two world wars, major efforts have been directed toward rehabilitation.

The timber cut in 2001 yielded an estimated 10,430,000 cu m (368 million cu ft) of roundwood. In 2000, UK sawmills cut 3.94 million cu m (139 million cu ft) of logs to produce 2.16 million cu m (76.2 million cu ft) of sawn lumber. Except for the two wartime periods, home woodlands have made only a limited contribution in this century to the national requirements in wood and wood products, almost 90% of which are met by imports. The UK imports softwood lumber from Canada, hardwood lumber and softwood plywood from the United States, hardwood veneer from Germany, hardwood plywood from Russia, and particleboard from Belgium.

The Forestry Commission promotes development of afforestation and increased timber production. Clearance of forests for agriculture began in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, so that by the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, only 15% of England was forested. There was a considerable degree of reforestation in the second half of the 20th century.

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