Wood – sustainable and unique

Here Michael Green promotes a new vision of urban high rise – using wood. His argument is sound as he acknowledges the challenges of exponential population growth, climate changes and the pressure both these place on Earth and the natural world. I have to challenge his opinion that we need to build more homes to house the homeless – why when there are so many ‘second homes’ or ‘holiday homes’ sitting vacant 90% of the time – why not tackle the inherent inequity of this reality first??

I have included some enlightening links on how timber IS being grown sustainably in parts of the world.

Managing coppice in Eucalypt plantations – source

This Agriculture Note describes the management of coppice in Eucalypt plantations. Regrowth from a cut tree stump or the base of a damaged stem is known as “coppice” and felling a tree leaving a short stump to encourage regrowth is called coppicing. Coppice growth arises from buds that lay dormant beneath the bark. Figure 1 shows coppice regrowth in a eucalypt forest after a fire. The practice of coppicing, on both short and long rotations, can be traced back to Neolithic times (4000 BC)[1]. Nowadays, the use of coppice in wood production is widespread, especially overseas, as a method for regenerating eucalypt plantations. In Australia, coppice systems are primarily used in firewood and pulpwood plantations and in the management of drier and low yielding forest types.

Advantages of using coppice – (esp’ over clear felling)

The following information on the advantages and disadvantages of using coppice is taken from the book Silvicultural Systems [2].


In comparison to the management of other forest silvicultural systems, the advantages of the coppice system are:

  • It is very simple in application, and reproduction is usually more reliable and cheaper than reproduction from seed.
  • Normally the yield from the first coppice crop is higher than that of the original seedling crop of the same age. Although yield generally drops off in subsequent rotations.
  • In the earlier stages, coppice growth is more rapid, and the poles produced are straighter and cleaner than in the same species when raised from seed. Hence, where a large turn out of poles or firewood billets of small to moderate size is required, coppice is generally superior to most other forest management systems.
  • Where there is a market for small diameter wood products, coppice is worked on a shorter rotation than most other forest management systems due to the generally, rapid initial growth of coppice stems. There is less capital tied up in the growing stock, and earlier returns are obtained than from other systems. Thus coppice is particularly suitable for small private properties in places where there is demand for the produce yielded by it.
  • The variety of habitat provided by different stages of worked coppice is beneficial to wildlife, hence the conservation value of coppice may be higher than that of single age plantations.



Finland is the most densely forested country in the European Union. Forests cover 23 million hectares which represents about 75% of the total land area.

Family forest owners’ objectives / values

Forest management in Finland is practised with future generations in mind. Due to the large number of forest owners with varying goals the multiple-use of Finnish forests is well presented.

According to surveys almost half (48%) of the family forest owners are so called multiobjective owners, the other groups prioritising recreation (21%), self-employment (18%) and financial security (13%). However, the right to conduct viable forestry is among the objectives emphasised by most of the forest owners.

2. Forest ownership in Finland 

From the forest area: 
Privately owned forests              52 %
State-owned forests                   35 %
Industrial private                            8 %
Others (community, church)        5 %

Private persons – ordinary Finnish citizens – own 52% of all forest land. The number of private forest holdings of at least one hectare is about 440.000. The number of individual private forest owners is estimated at 920.000, which means that almost every fifth Finn is a forest owner. Of the annual increment around 65-70% and of the commercial felling of timber 80-85% comes from privately owned forests.

Finnish forestry is commonly termed family forestry: small-scale forestry run by ordinary families, and passed on as a legacy from one generation to the next.

The structure of family forest ownership is changing due to the age structure of rural population, urbanisation and inheritance. The proportion of farmer-forest owners has decreased, while the number of wage and salary earners and pensioners has increased. In 1970 farmers were still the biggest group to own private forest (76%) when today their share is only about 19%

devastation – Clear Felling

coppiced forest – retaining habitat


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