Landowners could branch out into timber

LANDOWNERS in Northumberland could venture into the timber industry with the help of grant funding.

Land agency firm Strutt and Parker is encouraging people to consider felling old trees and embarking on a woodland management programme with the help of grants from the Forestry Commission.

Conifer timber prices have risen by 43 per cent in the last two years and the hardwood sector is seeing a similar increase as demand soars from the drive towards renewable energy, the increasing use of wood as a biomass fuel and for wood-based zero carbon housing.

And landowners can find even greater incentive to cash in on the growing industry through grants.

The Woodland Regeneration Grant provides cash to re-plant felled areas, paying out £1,000 per hectare if native species are used and £500 per hectare for non-native trees or conifers, provided the landowner maintains the newly planted wood for at least ten years.

There is also a Woodland Creation Grant available to establish new woodland, paying up to £1,800 per hectare towards the basic establishment, extra funds of up to £2,000 per hectare when the plans meet regional or national priorities, and up to £300 per hectare to compensate for lost income if the wood is created on farmland.

Agent Matthew Williamson, of Strutt and Parker’s Morpeth office, said: “Substantial numbers of woodland shelter belts are either windblown or mature and no longer serving their purpose in providing shelter for livestock and land.

“Now there is an opportunity to sell the standing timber felling and afterwards re-plant the woodland.

Before felling, the landowner has to obtain felling permission from the Forestry Commission, but is then able to claim grant aid to re-plant the felled area.

“With careful consideration when planting the new wood, the woodland will not only provide shelter for livestock and land, but also provide an area suitable for sporting and amenity purposes.”

For further information contact Mr Williamson on 01670 500870.