What is Short Rotation Forestry?
Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) differs from its near relation, SRC (Short Rotation Coppice) in that it’s much more akin to traditional forestry. SRC is typically harvested every 3 years, whereas SRF is a much longer rotation (8-20 years), placing SRF somewhere between SRC and conventional forestry in timescales.
Essentially, the trees are felled when they have reached a diameter of about 10-20 cm and around 1-2 metres in height. This means there are two key benefits: retaining the fast growth rate of young trees and also increasing the wood to bark ratio, making woodchip from SRF burn very efficiently.
During harvest, the bark is stripped and left on site with other residues to return nutrients to the soil. The wood is removed to prepare for end markets.
A number of species, native, naturalized and exotic, have been proposed for SRF, including various varieties of:
- Nothofagus (southern beech)
The yields of SRC may be extraordinary, but the limited field trials of SRF show comparable and even better yields with some species. However, these results are unlikely to be universal across the UK – soil types and temperature range are critical variables in obtaining maximum yields with SRF.
Environmental Benefits of SRF/SRC
Trees are the ultimate friend of the environment at large. They’re considered the gold standard in bio-diversity, carbon cycle and storage as well as natural flood management. Combining SRF with SRC on your land ensures the very best of both worlds – the SRF providing secure safe habitats for all kinds of wildlife while the SRC provides a ready supply of food for insects and for the predators of them.