One of the features of the wood products market in the UK is its high dependence on imported timber with only 15% of current demand being met from UK forests. It is estimated that some 77,000m3 softwood per annum comes from the Central Scotland Forest area and this is expected to rise to 350,000 m3 by the year 2011. Very little hardwood is currently produced but it is estimated that some 4,500 m3 could potentially be available.
Markets for timber tend to be regional rather than local. Logs are expensive to haul long distances unless they are very valuable. Each tree felled may be cut into a number of sections destined for different markets, depending on size, straightness and quality.
Early thinnings, small diameter conifers and hardwood, or lower quality stems (due to branches or knots) are generally destined for bulk processing or local markets. Larger diameter straight sections suitable for sawmilling may travel further afield.
PANELS AND BOARD PRODUCTS : both conifers and hardwoods are chipped or ground up into small fibres, mixed with resin and glues and then pressed into panels and board products. Medium density fibreboard (MDF), chipboard and particle board have a range of uses: general construction, flooring, furniture manufacture and DIY. Wood may be sent to Caberboard (CSC Forest Products Ltd) at Cowie, Stirlingshire or Egger (UK) Ltd in Hexham.
PULP AND PAPER MANUFACTURE utilises mainly spruce. Wood is broken down by grinding or chemicals to produce wood pulp, which is then converted to various forms of paper. The closest mill is Caledonian Paper Plc at Irvine.
FIREWOOD: Lower quality hardwoods may be sold as firewood to householders and individuals although the firewood market in the Forest area is relatively small.
CHARCOAL: Most charcoal is imported. In the UK there are a number of small local producers, working mainly part time. At present in the CSF charcoal production is mainly for demonstration purposes.
SAWLOGS: There are about 60 sawmills in Scotland. A few of the larger mills are within, or reasonably close, to the Central Belt (such as BSW Petersmuir and James Callendar at Falkirk), although timber may travel further afield depending on purchaser and needs. Large diameter straight trees are needed to produce planks and sawn timber for work such as general construction, pallets, house fittings and furniture. Hardwoods may suit more specialist markets ( beams for restoration, cabinet making and chockwood for mining).
FENCING: This market is supplied by both large and small mills including estate sawmills (e.g.Hopetoun House sawmill) which are generally supplied by wood from the estate itself or purchased locally. Often these produce a variety of products including fencing products, pallet wood, or small construction orders.
WOODCHIPS AND BARK: These are used for riding surfaces, play areas, path surfacing and garden mulches and are often a byproduct of other products or a means of using wood that would otherwise be burnt or wasted. Little wood is used for these purposes at present but it may be possible to expand these markets in the future.
CHRISTMAS TREES AND FOLIAGE: Christmas trees are usually grown in specialist plantations, either as a cash crop on a 7-8 year rotation or to produce an early income with remaining trees left to grow on for timber. Foliage may be in demand from certain conifer species and seasonally from Holly.
BIOMASS: This "new" market includes products such as woodchips, firewood and other waste wood which are used to produce heat and/or power. Wood waste is often recycled in existing mills, but in some places dedicated plants are under construction to supply electricity for the national grid. At present there is no end user in the CSF, although there are biomass demonstration plots of fast-growing varieties of willow, poplar and alders.