The aim of this study was to develop a database of small woodland owners, managers and contractors in Argyll, detailing the extent of the physical resource, its economic viability and aspirations of the owners for each woodland.
The study has shown that there is significant untapped potential within Argyll, with only around 50% of the participants having a management plan in place and only 20% of those currently working towards their objectives. The main barriers to woodland management included that the woodlands were often too small with poor access (roads and terrain), they were not economical to manage, and markets are often remote and inaccessible for small woodland owners. There is lack of appropriate equipment available in the area, and the contractor base requires upskilling.
The key areas for support centre around capacity building through knowledge and skills development and collaboration. The study highlighted the need for expert support and advice for a broad range of woodland management activity. From management planning through to more practical delivery on the ground, with skills development for small scale, low-impact economically viable forest harvesting and extraction.
It was concluded that all issues could be addressed through collaborative working and by taking a shared/ward forester approach. Working collaboratively, as opposed to individual organisations and businesses working in isolation, reduces duplication.
A shared/ward forester model operates at a practical level managing clusters of woodland within distinct geographical areas to improve economies of scale for operations, and marketing as well as improving the economics for the forest contractor.
The survey has identified the knowledge sharing and skills development that woodland owners require. The Coop is currently compiling a 3 year knowledge sharing and training programme.
To review the woodland owners and contractor survey – see WOODLAND OWNERS SURVEY FINAL REPORT