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Buying and selling wood

Forestry for Biomass  >  Buying and selling wood

Depending on the scale of your forestry operation, you may find that your potential timber output does not meet your demand exactly. This is common where a woodland is being brought back into active management after a long period of neglect, or if you are planting new areas which will take some time to become mature.

There are a number of different routes you can go down to either buy or sell wood, and a few regulatory issues that you should be aware of as well. In either case, you may want to look at the Economics and Statistics pages on the FC website which has data on timber prices and sales going back for many years.


Buying Timber

Depending on the type of material you're looking for, there are a number of different options. We maintain a large list of specialist fuel suppliers, available here.

The Forestry Commission sells nearly all its timber via the esales website, you will need to register, you'll then be able to bid for parcels of timber. The FC sells timber "standing", which means that you'd need to arrange for felling and transportation yourself. Smaller amounts of timber do become available from time to time and are sold on a regional basis. For any details of material that may be available, contact your local forest district office details available here.

Other places to look for timber for sale are the forestry trade magazines and via the Ecolots website. You could also try contacting forestry management companies, or some of woodland initiatives listed here.

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Selling Timber

There are a wide range of different methods for selling timber. There are some useful routes listed here. A significant amount of business does get passed on by word of mouth, so adverts in your local paper, or asking neighbours with land may also be good routes.

There are some additional things you do need to take into account when selling timber for fuel.

  • If you are based within a smoke control area, you should know about the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were a response to the smogs of the 1950s and 60s and allowed local authorities to define smoke control areas. They were consolidated into the Clean Air Act of 1993.
    Within smoke control areas, authorised fuels which include gas, electricity, anthracite and specified manufactured smokeless fuels, may be used. Any other fuels, including wood and pellets, may only be burned in an exempt appliance that has been specifically tested and approved under the Clean Air Act.
    It is illegal knowingly to sell fuel in a smoke control area for use in an unapproved appliance. However, sale of unapproved fuel in smoke control areas is widespread and there is no obligation on the vendor to determine what appliance the fuel sold is being burnt in (or whether the fuel will be burnt within the area or transported outside it before burning). This stipulation could have consequences for businesses who install stoves and open fires and also deliver fuel, but fuel suppliers who sell direct to customers without delivery realistically have no way of knowing where the fuel goes to.
  • If you intend to sell fuel to the public sector, you should know that Government bodies in the UK are required to demonstrate that all timber they use and purchase is both sustainable and legal. Further information is available here.
  • If you are supplying fuel regularly, then you should check whether it would be beneficial to join one of the assurance schemes available. These schemes build confidence with your customers and may be a useful selling point.

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Indicative Timber Prices

Type Grade Indicative /tonne
at roadside
Softwood Small Round Wood (SRW) Chipwood 20-25
Pulp Wood 20-28
Fencing 33-38
Woodfuel 23-30
Softwood Sawlogs Red 28-35
Green 35-48
Hardwood SRW 30-50
Woodfuel (delivered) Firewood Logs (seasoned) 100-200
Woodfuel Chip (seasoned) 90-110

The small print:
N.B. These prices are intended for guidance only and represent a typical range of costs of different timber types for comparison. All prices are prone to significant variation with geographical region, order quantities, overall contract size and duration, time of year, delivery distance and time, etc. Woodfuels in particular are available at prices both significantly above and below those quoted. Figures have been chosen, based on anecdotal evidence, to represent reasonably likely mean prices across the UK at the time of writing (November 2011)

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Funded by

Forestry for Woodfuel and Timber

Index

  1. Introduction and benefits of woodland management
  2. Fuel from woodland
  3. Buying a woodland
  4. Support for woodland management
  5. Grants, regulations and certification
  6. Woodland health
  7. Forest management plans
  8. Silviculture
  9. Planting Woodland
  10. Managing small areas and volumes
  11. Harvesting
  12. Fuel Processing
  13. Harvesting and Processing Costs
  14. Buying and selling wood
  15. Further Reading
  16. Training