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Farm Woodlands Information Note:
Quick Guide to Short Rotation Forestry Species

The table below contains details of some of the tree species that are best suited for short rotation woodlands.

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Common name/Scientific name Photo (click on image to expand) Climate Soils Exposure tolerance General yield class Normal rotation length Timber properties /calorific values
Sitka Spruce; Picea sitchensis Sitka spruce pine needles on an older tree, some of the twigs have lost the needles and others are bushy and full. Tolerates a wide range of conditions but grows best and fastest on the west coast. Will be restricted to the west side of Scotland in future due to reduced rain in the east. Can grow on most soils and does best on deep freely draining soils. Slightly dry to wet, poor to very rich fertility. High 10 - 32+ 35 - 45 years Highly favoured by commercial sawmills. Can produce construction grade timber but there is a wide market for lower strength wood and pulp. 7.5GJ/m3
Most widely planted tree in the UK due to its quick growth and wide range of suitable site conditions. Due to the quick growth, least palatable to browsing and timber improvements it has been included in this list.
Sitka Spruce Hybrid; Picea x lutzii Pine needles on a hybrid sitka spruce tree. Similar conditions to Sitka Spruce but can tolerate less rainfall. As per parent Sitka Spruce can grow well on a wide variety of soils. Medium/high 6 - 24+ 50 - 55 years Similar to Sitka and so would be accepted similar markets. Approximately 7.3GJ/m3
A naturalised hybrid between Sitka and White Spruce growth rates are quicker than the mostly alterative species Norway Spruce particularly in the East were conditions for Sitka are becoming less favourable.
Sycamore; Acer pseudoplatanus Tolerates a wide range of conditions, tolerates late spring frosts and exposure to wind and salt spray.. Prefers deep, moderately fertile, alkaline, moist or damp conditions. High 4 -12 40 - 50 years High value if managed for timber. Coppices well. Tolerates salt winds. Grey squirrel control required to avoid significant damage to timber quality. 10.1GJ/m3
Not considered native but as Ash dies out or becomes uncommon will be the likely candidate to replace it, good nectar source for bees.
Silver Birch; Betula pendula A full frame of silver birch leaves, green and slightly jagged edges. Very hardy, tolerates a range of climates as well as a drier climate to Downey birch. Lighter and mineral soils. High 4 - 12 35 - 45 years High grade value when it reaches suitable diameter and coppices well. 12.1GJ/m3
Fast growing at an early stage like other broadleaves species requires protection from herbivores.
Downey Birch; Betula pubescens Wet Downey birch leaves in close focus. No major climate limitations, like Silver Birch. Can thrive at higher elevations than most other broadleaves. Heavy soils, where waterlogging can occur and peats. High 4 - 12 50 - 55 years Poorer quality than silver birch; likely uses are for firewood and biomass. 12.1GJ/m3
Preferred species of Birch when planting in wetter areas. Main species in many native woodland types.
Common Alder; Alnus glutinosa Leaves and fruits of the common alder tree. No serious limitations in the UK, don’t grow well at higher elevations. All soil types but requires moisture. High 4 - 14 40 - 50 years Historically used for gunpowder, now used mainly in native woodlands. 9.2GJ/m3
A quick growing tree that is one of the least palatable broadleaves, if the ground conditions are not right will start to die at approximately year 10.
Italian Alder; Alnus cordata A close range shot of dark green Italian Alder leaves and two seed pods. Grows well on lower elevation sites with little exposure. Tolerates dry and calcareous soils, does not require to be near water. Medium 4 - 13 40 - 50 years Firewood, biomass
Common use is on reclaimed land such as ex-open cast timber growth. Native to Italy and Corsica..
Green Alder; Alnus incana Green Alder leaves and fruits in close focus. Tolerates a wide variety of climate conditions. Similar to Common Alder but will tolerate some dry sites like Italian Alder. High 4 - 13 40 - 50 years Firewood, biomass
Similar to Italian common use is on reclaimed land. It can be found over most of central Europe from France to Siberia.
Red Alder; Alnus rubra Light green red alder leaves in soft focus with three brown seed pods in the middle of one of the twigs. Tolerates a wide variety of climate conditions but not dry sites. Once leaves open very susceptible to late frosts. All soil types but does not do well on dry or sandy sites. Medium 4 - 13 40 - 50 years Firewood, biomass
A native of British Columbia and can be found growing with Sitka Spruce.
Aspen; Populus tremula An aspen tree with white bark and small green foliage. Tolerates a wide range of conditions, similar to Sycamore. Grows on a wide range of soils but peaty soils best avoided. High 6 40 -50 years Main use of Aspen is for biomass. 8.6GJ/m3
Native species, a possible replacement to Ash, naturally suckers.
Hybrid Aspen; Populus tremula x tremuloides A copse of Hybrid Aspen trees, all tall and thin trunks with spring green leaves in the canopy. Optimum is nutrient rich, well aerated, moderately drained soils with high water holding capacity. Prefer mainly ex-agricultural fields for best growth rates. High 8 Biomass or firewood. 8.6GJ/m3
A quick growing Aspen hybrid crossed with trembling Aspen, extensive trials where carried out in Northern Europe where today only Sweden grow it in reasonable numbers.
Urn Gum; Eucalyptus urnigera Urn Gum flower pods and leaves in close range. Lowland sites only. Along with E. glaucescens it is one of the most cold tolerant Eucalyptus. Requires well drained sites. Copes with wind, snow and frost. Low 24 Biomass Timber poor and so only suitable for biomass/firewood. 12.5GJ/m3
Species has established successfully for biomass in Scotland. Mature trees can be found along the west coast of Scotland. Like all Eucalyptus, the foliage is unpalatable to deer however deer fraying can be a problem.
Tingiringi Gum; Eucalyptus glaucescens Tingiringi Gum trees planted in a row with brown bracken below them. Lowland sites preferred, can be planted at higher elevations than other Gums. Requires well drained sites. Medium 26 Biomass 15 years Timber poor and so only suitable for biomass/ firewood. 12.5GJ/m3
Species has established sucessfully for biomass in Scotland. E. glaucescens is the optimum species for west central Scotland.

*General yield class is a measure of productivity. It is the average annual gain in timber volume per hectare per year over the rotation. For example, a yield class of 16 indicates an average annual timber volume gain of 16m3 /ha/yr. Yield class varies between species (some grow faster than others) and site conditions. A tree species planted on an unsuitable site will have a lower yield class than the same species growing in more suitable conditions. Yield class ranges are based on trees grown in pure, single-species stands and are indicative only.

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