Working in the UK Forestry Sector
The enormous variety of uses and the diversity of operations involved in producing wood products and getting them to market, give rise one of the most wide-ranging and complex supply chains of any industry. From the growing and harvesting of timber, to the sawmill, wood processor or importer, then to the distributor, merchant or retail outlet, or to the manufacturer or joiner and finally to the end user, the timber supply chain comprises a vast number of operations. Hence the sector provides an astonishing amount of opportunities for employment and career development.
The value of forestry to the economy
The woodland, forestry and timber processing industry supports thousands of businesses, jobs and livelihoods. The estimated turnover of forestry and the wood-based products industry is £8.9bn (2011). This places the forestry and wood processing sector eighteenth on the list of over 120 major industries in the UK.
The processing sector in the UK is highly advanced and at the forefront of technological innovation. In addition to wood grown in the UK, it may also process wood sourced from many other countries, including Scandinavia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa and the Far East.
UK woods and forests already play an essential part in the growth of the UK carbon market and the green economy; providing renewable energy and contributing to recycling targets. The woodfuel supply chain is forecast to generate £1 billion GVA and 15,000 new jobs by 2020.
In 2010, 14,000 thousand people in forestry and 29,000 in primary wood processing (sawmilling, panels and pulp & paper) were employed by 3,170 forestry businesses, 605 sawmilling businesses, 135 wood-based panel businesses and 250 pulp & paper businesses. The vast majority of these businesses are among the small and medium sized enterprises.
Good for people
Trees, woods and forests contribute significantly to the quality of life in both rural and urban areas. Whilst the growing takes place, woodland can give a range of range of environmental benefits as the trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), storing the carbon in their leaves, branches and trunk, and in the soil around. They aid community cohesion and regeneration, provide educational opportunities, reduce noise, help improve air quality and mitigate the negative visual impacts of roads and other built development, stability for ground where flooding persists, and as a natural filter. They are playing a growing role in the fuel industry too, helping to heat and power homes and businesses.
They have been found to improve the health and well-being of those who use them for recreation, relaxation and observing wildlife and flora in natural woodland habitats. The value of UK woodland for public access benefits alone is estimated to be £447 million a year.
Good for nature
Trees, woods and forests make an important contribution to preserving and enhancing the natural environment. Some of the nation’s most iconic wildlife depends on trees, woods and forests and around a quarter of priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan are associated with woodland habitats. Trees, woods and forests support so many species because of the variety of different habitats and niches they offer.
UK Forestry Facts and Figures?
- The UK has 3.1 million hectares of forest & woodland which consists of approximately 3,814 million trees.
- Forests and woodlands make up 13% of the land cover in the UK.
- 80% of the woodlands in the UK consist of trees under 100 years old.
- Currently 47.5% of forests and woodlands in the UK are undermanaged or not managed however government targets aim to see this increase to 80%
- The UK utilises 50 million cubic meters of timber annually, 10.6 million cubic meters of which is grown in the UK
- 95% of home grown timber entering the wood products sector comes from softwoods/conifers
- Timber has over 5,000 uses including paper, construction materials and even clothing.
- The average person in the UK consumes 12 trees a year in their everyday life – wood, paper, packaging, cardboard, toilet tissue and many other products
- Wood is amongst the oldest materials used by humans. There are more than 70,000 different woods known to humanity, each with their own characteristics and properties, but only a few hundred of these are used commercially throughout the World.
- Global demand for timber is set to triple by 2050