THE amount of softwood available on the UK forest estate is likely to increase in the next 20 years - before dropping back to near-current levels. 

Around 15.1 million m3 will be available per annum between in 2022–26, which will then rise to 18.2m m3 per annum in 2037–41. This will then revert to 15.5m m3 from 2042 to 2046. 

However, softwood availability on the public forest estate (which includes land managed by Forestry England and Natural Resource Wales) is likely to reduce in that time period as the private sector grows until 2041. From then (between 2042 until 2046), the private sector's share will decline. 

That's according to the latest National Forest Inventory (NFI) report from Forest Research, which forecasts how the UK's woodlands are likely to change over time. 

As detailed by the document, which was published last week, most of the softwood will come from Scotland (an average of 10.7m m3), with England (3.5m m3), Wales (1.7m m3) and Northern Ireland (0.6m m3) making up the numbers. 

Other findings in the report include: 

  • The total coniferous standing volume is likely to drop from a UK-wide 399,536,000 m3 to 347,915,000 m3 by 2042
  • There is around 132,000 hectares of overdue timber on Great Britain's private estates, and 15,000ha on public land 
  • Around 106,000ha of clear-felled land exists across Great Britain 

Following the report's release, a Forest Research statement read: "The forecasts in the report estimate how our woodlands may change over time.

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"The NFI forecasts examine different aspects of the future state of the woodland according to alternative future management scenarios.

"One key aspect of NFI forecasts is timber availability with the forecasts including the corresponding standing volume remaining in woodlands and the increment." 

Softwood includes species such as Western hemlock, Douglas fir and larch, and can be widely found across the UK. 

To read the full report, visit Forest Research's website