A  Project Summary


The aim of the project was to create new working opportunities in rural areas and increase the competitiveness of timber construction and wood product industries in the Northern Periphery region. This was to be achieved through investigating and developing specific commercial opportunities offered by the use of round poles within the framework of a sustainable, ecologically sound silviculture. It has implications for silvicultural practice and manufacturing. The overall objective is to make a contribution to the improvement of local economies of the Northern Periphery in a sustainable way. Networking and information collection were considered important aspects of the project to bring together a range of disparate interests all of which could bring benefits to round pole markets.

Silvicultural practice in the European Northern Periphery is characterised by the need for frequent thinning to encourage maximisation of forest growth. This results in production of significant quantities of small dimensioned round wood for which there is traditionally little developed commercial use. Uses at present are restricted to low value cellulose and chippings and local added value is low.

Over time the lack of commercial outlets for small dimensioned roundwood, and the expense of the forestry thinning process, has led to a reduction in thinning with a detrimental effect on future growth, missed opportunities for employment & manufacturing and unnecessary waste of a potentially valuable material resource.
This highlights the need and potential for future growth of employment and manufacturing as well as local value adding.

In applying for funding it was emphasised that identifying commercial outlets for this material would be a significant contribution to

  • increasing the value of thinnings and consequently making it more viable to undertake thinning;

  • this would in turn contribute to the development of improved long term silvicultural practice and to the development of new employment opportunities.

  • it would have a direct and immediate impact on the local economy:-

  1. by direct efficiencies;

  2. by substituting for imported material;

  3. by developing new industry - through technology transfer - involving relatively low capital investment;

  4. developing local expertise in particular techniques;

  5. identifying longer term opportunities.

The objectives identified were to:-

  • Create a network of material suppliers, designers, researchers, builders and timber companies.

  • Establish and extend the level of knowledge and best practise in forest thinnings.

  • Seek opportunities for design development providing more local added value and commercial outlets.

  • Seek opportunities for design development creating employment opportunities in forest-based industries in NPP region.

  • Undertake this in a manner, which sets a precedent of ecological best practise in forest management, thereby fulfilling the social, environmental and ecological objectives of sustainable development.

  • Transfer the techniques through the dissemination of information on demonstration projects, manufacturing experience and products.

Applications identified included housing and accommodation, public buildings; farm buildings; informal structures; paths; bridges; fencing; playground furniture; other uses of roundpole, both in the round and machined. Examples provided ranged from visitor centres and demonstration structures to path edgings, fence posts to rugby posts. Several non-round applications were also identified, including sawn timber of various dimensions and chippings for cattle corral filtration systems.

Many products were built including bridges, composite panels and small recreational buildings. They and others have potential for further implementation and development.

It was notable that whilst basic factors in each country have some similarity, differences are also apparent. These differences include the existing markets for roundpole which are more developed in Finland and Norway than in Scotland. Forestry practice also differs enormously and the Report on the Use and Impact of Roundpole in Scotland is highly informative in this regard. A marketing report has brought together a large number of interested parties in Scotland to seek opportunities for further product development. The Usage of Roundpole in Scotland - A Review of Current Activity

The research outputs, including the development of a network of interested parties, will make a contribution to advancing the debate and action in the Northern Periphery and in planning for future roundpole use within the framework of a sustainable, ecologically sound silviculture and built environment. An event is planned in 2001 in collaboration with the Scottish Ecological Design Association in which these matters and the research outputs will be discussed with a view to further advancement of the work.