Woodfuel has an important role to play in energy production. Using woodfuel instead of non-renewable fuels will reduce carbon emissions. This helps to meet emissions targets over the coming decades and mitigates climate change.

Existing woodfuel sources are unlikely to be able to meet the future demand. There is a clear need for additional, sustainable resources to fill this gap.

Growing woodfuel-specific crops by Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) or Short Rotation Forestry (SRF) could meet this demand. That's why we need to know more about how these techniques would fare in Scotland.

Establishing country-wide Energy Forestry (EF) trials - developed by Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research - provides us with that information. They will establish the potential of SRC and SRF for woodfuel production, and serve as demonstrational and educational resources.

Here, we explain what's going on, where, and what we expect to find.

The EF exemplar sites are being set up in support of the recommendations given in the Scottish Forestry Strategy (2006), the Scottish Government Woodfuel Taskforce Report (2008) and the Climate Change Action Plan (2008 -2010).

Establishment guidelines

Progress reports

Definitions - Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) and Short Rotation Forestry (SRF)

  • SRC: Woody vegetation grown on a repeated coppice cycle of 3 – 4 years specifically for the production of biomass.
  • SRF: Single stemmed trees of fast growing species grown on a reduced rotation length (10 – 20 years) primarily for the production of biomass.

Although operating on a shorter timescale, SRC is predominantly only fit for biomass. SRF involves more time investment but it also has the potential to be grown on as a timber crop, rather than as biomass, should the market dictate that this is a better option at the end of the ‘short’ rotation.

SRC is becoming less popular in Scotland because it requires better quality, arable land for good growth but produces a lower quality crop.

Because SRF can make use of more marginal agricultural land to produce a higher energy, higher quality product, it is seen as being the option that is best suited to Scotland’s growing conditions.