What a year it has been for us all!
Like the farming industry timber harvesting and haulage was allowed to continue during lockdown, and whilst building sites were all closed down there was demand for the essential supply of biomass for power stations, and pallet wood for transport of essential items. The Nightingale Hospital in London was created using OSB from the Norbord plant in Inverness!
Because one day everything was working as normal, and the next we were on stop with many customers, it took a little while for things to settle down. We were forced to stop sites containing a high sawlog element as customers were simply closed, but at the same time it quickly became obvious that there was a demand for small roundwood and pallet wood.
As a business we made the bold decision that our primary aim was to support our staff and protect our business so that we were there when things returned to normal.
I am proud to say that none of our staff were furloughed, and as a result we were there for our customers as they started up after lockdown, and although the market was up and down from one week to the next it really picked up significantly over the second half of 2020.
Fast forward a year and we are now busier than we have ever been, with both timber harvesting and haulage sectors operating at full capacity. Sawlog prices are breaking records on a weekly basis, and are the highest they have been throughout my career.
Although partly caused by shortages due to the lengthy extreme winter weather in the early part of 2021, we expect this strong demand to continue as those industries that are the end users of wood products strive to make up for the business they lost during lockdown. Continued investment in extra capacity by sawmills across Scotland is great news for woodland owners.
Small roundwood is also in strong demand from both the traditional users as well as the ever-growing biomass industry, with ongoing investment in new capacity in both these sectors which will drive stronger demand.
Currently supply and demand are generally well matched throughout the industry, but many round timber users are bought ahead for a relatively short period, and hence will be keen to secure raw material for the second half of the year.
If you have woodlands that are ready for either thinning or clear felling now is an ideal time to put it to market, but please be aware that there are significant backlogs in felling permissions as a result of Covid, so make sure to allow plenty of time ahead of harvesting to get a Felling Licence.
Graeme Ralph, Operations Director, North Scotland, Euroforest Ltd
This article has been published in the Spring 2021 edition of the Farm Woodland News. Download a copy to access all articles. Subscribe to receive newly published editions via email by using the form here.
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