Forestry Friday … Britain’s New Forest

I found this to be an interesting story on plans to reestablish forests in Northern Britain. It’s a noble goal to be sure. The goal is to plant 62,000 acres back to forest with 50,000,000 trees.  The cost is expected to be $690 million. That’s where I start to cringe.

When comparing projects done in California by private timber companies doing wildfire restoration I think it could be done better in Britain. We would use about 20,000,000 trees to do the same size area. With soil site preparation, tree planting and initial herbicide treatment to control the weeds for a year or two, our reforestation cost would be about $25,000,000 for 62,000 acres. Now, if they were to plant the trees in Britain at a 12’x12’ spacing like we would here, they could cover 165,000 acres.  Our costs here would be approximately $65,000,000. Plus, planting the trees as close together as they propose, about 7’x7’ will require the trees be thinned within a few short years at substantial expense. Otherwise, the trees become overly crowded and stressed.

This doesn’t sound like forestry, because it really has a price tag for landscaping. I believe it’s a worthy project, but can be done better. I realize our infrastructure for these types of projects is different and cheaper, but that is still a huge cost difference. I also know that many American foresters outside of California are thinking my cost estimates are too high. That’s California.  My suggestion is to draft some good Canadian reforestation foresters to come over and lend a hand.

13 thoughts on “Forestry Friday … Britain’s New Forest

  1. Thanks for posting – this area is now on my doorstep and will be interested to follow up. Doubt the project will come off in its entirety in this climate of uncertainty.

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    • I sincerely hope it does. I think it would be profoundly beneficial for local wildlife. Although changes in habitat always favor some species to the detriment of others, but it would certainly add to species diversity in your area. It would interesting to watch.


  2. We had some tree planting done here in medians between roads. It seemed odd how a variety of trees were planted to close together and believe it or not, most lived and grew very tall. Of course, the planting was not a forest and I’m not sure if it will be cost effective on a large scale. But Britain could use some more trees.

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    • I believe they would benefit ecologically from additional forest too. In this case, I think there would positive unintended consequences. The reason the trees can grow well close together in the median is because they have lots of edge opening that still gives the adequate sunlight. When the trees are too dense over large areas the weaker trees die off. Natural self thinning occurs when dominant tree win the race for the sun and the weaker trees are shaded out. However, some species tolerate the shade quite well and will survive.

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      • Thanks for the explanation. Many trees here, at the edge of the Piney Woods, seem to shed their lower branches with leaves and needles left at their tops. They do seem to be racing to the sun. I live in the city on a large lot and was able to keep nearly 80 native trees on the property. I really enjoy my little woods.


        • You’re very observant. The trees go through senescence and will shed the lower branches and older leaves/needles as they become no longer efficient in their function for the tree. The shaded branches no longer contribute to photosynthesis for the tree and use more resources then they add. They die off and the tree sheds them over time. The closer together the trees grow, the less sunlight reaches the lower branches, thus the higher up the tree the branch shedding goes.
          What types of tree grow on your property?

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          • As much as I love my trees, I am embarrassed to say I have not identified all of them. Here is a general list: Oak (maybe more than one kind), Sweet Gum, Iron Wood, Elm (has small leaves), American Holly, Yaupon Holly and Loblolly Pine which always fascinates me with the needles at the top. I’m from Appalachian Mountains where pines are very different. I have also landscaped with “domestic” type trees. I am able to keep the natives in a natural area covered with leaves etc. And I have been very pleased that they made it through 2 hurricanes, a long drought and a couple of floods (heavy rain for my property with not much standing water).

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