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2012 Edition, 2012

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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2012 Edition, 2012
  • Published Date: January 2012
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: Building Research Establishment (BRE)
  • Page Count: 68
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:


Every day across the UK, thousands of tonnes of wood residue are produced through arboricultural work undertaken by local authorities, the Highways Agency, train companies, local tree surgeons and small woodland owners. The timber produced is normally variable and inconsistent in both dimension and quality. This variability, together with the logistical problems of collection, transportation and selection, has relegated most of this material to the mulch or firewood bin.

During the past five years a lot of effort and funding have been directed at utilising much of this material as fuel wood. For a proportion of the material this is an ideal use, especially where a central timber collection hub has been established.

However, carefully selected material has the potential to generate an additional funding stream for such a timber collection hub (or stand-alone sawmill), while ensuring that the high quality timbers seen in streets and parks find their way into wood products rather than being burnt as wood fuel. Because of the varied nature of the species located in the urban environment, much of this material has the potential and inherent quality for use in bespoke furniture manufacture, musical instruments and decorative items, such as bowls, boxes and sculptures.

This report provides guidance on how to improve the utilisation of material culled from the UK's urban timber resource. It contains information on:

• selection of tree species most likely to provide a good economic return

• processing methods required to convert the timber

• wood drying required to enable both common and exotic urban tree species to be used for solid wood products.

The economics of undertaking such a venture will rely on many different organisational aspects, not least:

• setting up a processing facility

• timber selection

• collection of timber material

• marketing of timber material.

Although the report does not investigate the economic implications of utilising the material described in this publication, such material has quality, visual impact and value, and a good percentage of the timber being harvested from our streets and parklands should find its way into solid wood products, rather than being used for fuel.

The report has been written to encourage local authorities, arboriculturists, wood fuel collection hubs, The Highways Agency, train companies and small sawmills to identify and utilise an important UK wood resource. One of the most difficult aspects of devising a process to utilise urban timber is how to form a collective group of industrial partners with the drive and enthusiasm to put a system in place where material can be identified, prepared at the roadside, transported, processed and finally marketed.

An aim of the report is to provide the in-depth information required by a collective of authorities to utilise as solid timber a large percentage of the material produced during routine arboricultural maintenance. The report provides information on:

• selection of species

• value-added growth features

• processing methods

• drying

• grading

• valuation

• how to identify prospective markets.

The report also contains a list of the species with the most potential, and includes for each an image and a description of its properties and its uses.

Despite the rapid expansion of the wood fuel market, it is important that material that can be used more profitably is channelled into sawn wood products instead of the smoke stack.