11 September 1998

A big employer, but its in crisis

FORESTRY in the UK is big business, employing 33,000 workers and a vast range of machinery.

But UK forestry is in crisis, with already tight margins being squeezed by competition from imports – especially from the former Soviet bloc countries – and high fuel prices, says the APF.

"Countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have vast resources of high-quality product but no hard currency and they are floating timber on the water," says the APFs Ian Millward. "Merchants can buy imported timber from the dock cheaper than we can produce it."

Where the domestic industry can compete is by getting the best out of woodland through supplying niche markets and turning poor-quality timber into an added-value product.

"There is a vast array of machinery and equipment available to foresters and land owners, enabling them to manage and exploit the potential of small-scale woodlands of around 2ha, without having to spend lots of capital," says Mr Millward. &#42