Seeing the Wood for the Trees: Factors Limiting Woodland Management and Sustainable Local Wood Product Use in the South East of England
The South East of England has an abundance of woodland, which offers a potential sustainable timber and fuel resource in parallel with being a much-loved part of rural life and rich ecological wildlife habitat. An ever-increasing quantity of mature broadleaved trees is available for harvest forms, with appropriate management and a sustainable yield potential, set against the backdrop of only 10% of UK timber demand currently supplied from UK-grown resource. There has been little systematic
... tle systematic research into the factors that limit the sector and initiatives to address the challenge have not had a significant impact on the amount of woodland under management. Through semi-structured interviews across the wood supply chain, this research provides an integrated analysis of the factors limiting woodland management in the South East of England. The findings indicate the sector is complex, multifaceted, slow to respond to change and driven by a strong set of human, economic, environmental, and structural motivations away from use of local wood product. A novel insight from the research was that although there was a positive affinity for forestry and a strong culture of woodland management across the spectrum of stakeholders, there was little evidence of effective collaboration or sector integration. These factors have been summarised in a 'rich picture' providing a visual and intuitive way of engaging with stakeholders. This research fills a significant gap in understanding the dynamics of forestry in the South East of England and provides new underpinning evidence for policy makers to design interventions aimed at delivering better sustainable utilisation of woodland resources in parallel with offering support to rural communities and economies.