Scottish Woodlots

Growing sustainable small-scale forestry


What is a woodlot?

Woodlots are relatively small areas of woodland (usually 10-20ha, but some are much smaller/bigger), licenced to and managed by individuals and groups to produce timber and other benefits as a small-scale forestry enterprise. The Woodlot is not owned by the Woodlot holder but Licenced to him/her from the landowner, with rights to fell timber produce under the Allowable Annual Cut, and responsibilities to replant and to manage the woodland sustainably. This is known as a Woodlot Licence.

The term ‘Woodlot’ comes from North America and refers to a small area of generally non-commercial woodland, usually owned and managed by a local family for modest firewood and timber production. There is no comparative term in Scotland that implies this scale and tenure model.

Woodlot Licences were established in British Columbia in the post-war era in the Crown forests. They were established alongside industrial-scale Licence and were purposely to give rural people a stake in their local forests through achieving Tenure. The Woodlot Licence programme grew slowly but surely, then increased massively in the 1970’s. There are now over 800 Woodlot Licences in BC, and they have made real progress in supporting local rural economies by placing land in the hands of local families

Benefits for Woodlotters

Benefits for Landowners

The process

The potential Woodlot Licence Holder creates a Woodlot Management Plan through consultation with the landowner which meets their requirements, both for their woodland and their estates objectives.

Licence holders are limited to how much timber they can cut through an Allowable Annual Cut.

Annual Allowable Cut

The Annual Allowable is a very simple mechanism but one that is very important for the whole Woodlot model. It provides a means of calculating the annual harvest on the Woodlot Licence and, from this, a means of calculating the rent.. Whether the Woodlot is worked annually or not is irrelevant.

How the Annual Allowable Cut is calculated

1)    Calculate the productive area and deducting the Net-downs (rides/roads/open ground etc.).

2)    Establish the likely rotation of the species which is likely to be used in restocking. The current species is not relevant, other than indicating what has worked, or not.

3)    If there is likely to be more than one rotation length then weight accordingly to the likely area of each rotation class.

4)    Divide the productive area by the rotation of the next species to give the Allowable Annual Cut.

5)    Calculate the likely thinning cycle of the current species in the productive area. Calculate the average thinning cycle for the Woodlot by weighting according to area.

6)    Divide the productive area by the rotation of the current species to give the Allowable Annual Cut Thinning Area.

Contact: William Allen 07701 386521

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