Too many disincentives to growing more UK woodland and forestry trees, conference hears

UK forestry nursery growers currently face too many risks for them to increase production and so meet biosecurity goals of reducing dependence on imports, the manager of one of the largest such nurseries told last week's Institute of Chartered Foresters tree health conference.

Image: HW
Image: HW

"The key factor for nursery resilience is stability," Christie-Elite Nurseries managing director Matt Hommel said. "Without a stable, predictable market, home-grown production is unsustainable."

Yet changes forestry and woodland grant schemes have made demand unpredictable, he said, and added: "Imports will continue to pose a threat to biosecurity. Yet there is plenty spare capacity in the UK industry. We need customers to specify UK-grown."

Biosecurity measures also hit his Moray nursery, "one of the few remaining forest nursery growers in the UK", he said.

"The precautions around ash dieback meant we had to destroy 300,000 clean, Scottish-grown ash trees. There has been a moratorium on larch since last year."

Meanwhile the demand for Sitka spruce "is gigantic and if you can't get it here, you will import it", he explained.

"I have to inform the Scottish Government if I import material into a Scottish port, but not if I drive it up from Dover."

Other growers had expressed similar concerns to him, he added. 

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