North East landowners are being offered help in achieving a forest certification that demonstrates their commitment to sustainability while bringing higher prices for their managed woodlands.
Egger Forest Management, which operates across Northern England and Scotland, has introduced a new scheme, focused on bringing forests up to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS).
This is recognised by two international sustainable forestry schemes - FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification).
Some 1.4m hectares of the UK’s forests are now certified, bringing benefits to both landowners and those who purchase the timber.
Managing Egger Forest Management’s scheme is business development and compliance manager Simon Hart, a veteran of forest certification who has been involved since the inception of the concept in the UK some 15 years ago.
He said: “Since launching the Egger Forest Management operation a year ago, this scheme is something we have worked hard and at no little cost to achieve.
“Being able to offer clients the benefits of certification, including third party audit of management against a recognised standard, gives us the ability to achieve the highest price for the landowner from the market for their timber.
“An additional benefit of certification is that our scheme and systems are independently audited each year, which gives them peace of mind that we are managing to a high, sustainable standard.”
One of Northumberland’s largest employers, Egger UK manufactures chip board products in factories at Hexham and Barony in Ayrhsire.
The company, which uses over 1m tonnes of wood per year, created the forestry management business following a decision to expand its forestry services in the UK.
Intending to complement the harvesting activity Egger already carried out, the new company uses the latest technologies to offer a range of cost-efficient management services, helping landowners generate income from their woodland assets
Egger Forest Management’s first load of certified timber recently left the Winnows Hill woodland near Consett in County Durham, which is managed by Dave Robson, based at Egger’s Hexham site.
Mr Robson said: “It is really important to be able to offer certified timber to the market place as it ensures we can maximise the price for the woodland owner.
“Most timber markets are demanding at least an element of certified timber, meaning there is always the highest demand for certified material. The timber moves from the site quickly and our client benefits.
“My Scottish colleague Sam Booth is about to put 14,000 tonnes of Egger-certified wood to market from Crookedstane Craig, Beattock Summit in Dumfriesshire.
“He was recently quoted a £2 per tonne differential between certified and uncertified timber, so it doesn’t need a large timber project for the client to soon get back the additional costs associated with meeting the certification standard.”
For more information on forest certification, Mr Hart can be contacted on 07876 743158 or firstname.lastname@example.org