Support for collaborative woodland management

posted on December 7, 2018

From today, users of our myForest service can query resource information across multiple properties which can help support collaborative woodland management.

Suited equally to woodland co-operatives or managers with multiple clients, the new functionality aims to improve efficiency by enhancing collaboration, with the main outcomes that more woodlands are managed well, and more home-grown timber reaches the market.

Most of Britain’s large plantation forests are managed as part of a crop rotation, but there are many smaller woodlands across the country, often part of mixed farms and estates under separate ownership, which are not being managed as costs can be prohibitive at small scales.

There can be distinct opportunities from scaling-up, such as: combining timber volumes to meet a new market demand; mixing timber from multiple small parcels to reduce haulage costs; or by undertaking similar operations at the same time of year to reduce costs. However, it can be complicated for agents managing data between clients, or for a co-operative project knowing enough about the resources managed by different members.

The new collaborative woodland management functionality in myForest aims to overcome these barriers by allowing users to query information across multiple clients/members. This includes:

  • search for species plus associated data (e.g. height, stem diameter, quality) across all properties/clients/members.
  • export sub-compartment information from these searchers into Excel to help with data management and manipulation.
  • browse sub-compartment locations on a map to view distances and conditions between different properties.
  • import data from new clients already on myForest, including mapping and inventory data.
  • search for areas with designations, such as SSSIs.
  • restrict searches to sites with felling licence applications.

The project arose thanks to collaboration with the Argyll Small Wood Coop. The Coop were working hard to provide their members with management plans, but were looking for a way of being able to query the information they had collected across their membership base to assess opportunities for collaborative management and marketing.

Here’s a real-life example of how the functionality can work for a Coop:

  1. Coop member Jamie Smith had a small parcel of oak on his farm that the Coop was trying to market for him.  There was a possible market available but because of the small volume of the parcel, haulage costs would make the operation uneconomic.
  2. The Coop searched its member database using the collaborative woodland management functionality on myForest to find out if there are any other Coop members with trees of the right specification that could make the overall offering more profitable.
  3. The Coop coordinator finds that Eleanor Davis has oak of a similar size on her farm.  They agree to market jointly both Jamie and Eleanor’s oak.
  4. Jamie and Eleanor’s woodlands entered active management and the woodland operations became profitable.

Equally the tool could work in the same way for woodland managers with multiple clients.

Sylva Foundation worked closely with Argyll Small Woods Coop and Wyre Community Land Trust to test and improve the functionality. Project funding was provided by Forestry Commission Scotland and Making Local Woods Work, together with core funding support from The Dulverton Trust.

As with all new developments in myForest we reply on feedback from the myForest community to make improvements. Please feel free to contact us with your feedback on this and any other aspect of myForest.


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