British-grown noble fir, Norway spruce, western red cedar and western hemlock could all produce acceptable returns of structural timber, mitigating the risk of depending on a limited range of species, according to a research note, ‘Timber properties of noble fir, Norway spruce, western red cedar and western hemlock grown in Great Britain’, released by the Forestry Commission.
The recent increase in outbreaks of tree pests and diseases has led to an interest in diversification by planting a wider range of tree species to mitigate any risk to the softwood resource.
The note explores alternative species for structural timber and reports on the structural timber properties of these four species, which can produce reasonable volumes in time for commercial purposes when grown in Great Britain. It also compares the results with published values for British-grown Sitka spruce. It also notes that of these four species, western red cedar has the least desirable structural timber properties.