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increment of timber from the time of sowing the seed in 1856 has averaged 238 cubic feet per acre. Reducing this by one-fifth to suit British "squareof-quarter-girth" measurement, it works out at 9d. a foot to £7 per acre per annum.
The capabilities of this wonderful tree have not yet been fairly tested in this country, but there seems to be little doubt that it is destined to effect a revolution far more complete in British forestry than that wrought by the larch in the eighteenth century. These eight acres at Taymount, and a patch of an acre and a half on the Whalley Abbey estate in Wicklow, are positively the only examples
which Dr Nisbet is able to give of the Douglas fir being submitted to forest treatment in this country. Elsewhere it has been used for ornamental effect, dotted about among other trees as our grandsires dotted silver firs. Just as the silver fir is the loftiest European tree, so the Douglas is the loftiest of American firs, and the result of such handling is the same in both cases. Silvers and Douglas outgrow all company but their own; the tops get knocked about by storms and the timber is rendered
worthless by the growth of side branches. Plant either of these trees in the way they grow naturally-in close company, covering a large extent of ground-and they will form their own effective shelter against the blast, and produce clean and readily marketable timber.
The most remarkable feature about the Douglas fir is the rapidity with which it produces commercial timber of the finest quality. Adopting Dr Nisbet's estimate of the most remunerative age for felling the principal forest trees grown under favourable conditions, viz. :
1 Dr Nisbet gives this (vol. i. p. 333) as a "rough generalisation" of the ages at which such trees, as a crop, reach "their greatest market value”; but he seems to be reckoning upon the present peculiar condition of the market for home timber, in which such stuff as pitwood is most readily saleable. The age when the timber of the different species ought to be at full bulk and perfect maturity must be taken as much higher, viz. :—
16,710,788 acres of waste land in the United Kingdom, about one-fifth, say 3,300,000 acres, is fitted for profitable forestry. This is a far less sanguine calculation than has been presented in evidence before the several committees which, in recent years, have inquired into forestry matters, but it is a prudent one. Much of the land reckoned as waste is bog, which could only be prepared for planting at vast expense; and much of it lies above the 1000 feet level, beyond which good results cannot be expected in our latitude. Moreover, it is not well to undertake planting in isolated patches.
"This estimate," says Dr Nisbet, "does not include every piece of poor pasturage and apparently waste land suitable for planting, because for planting, with a fair chance of profit, it is essential to form large compact blocks of woodland. Small scattered plantations of 20, 30, 40, or 50 acres can neither be made nor managed so economically as large compact blocks of 500, 1000, or 2000 acres; for between sylviculture and arboriculture there is just the same sort of economic difference as exists between
manufacturing on a large and on a
Again, he utters a word of caution against too high expectation in regard to this un
1 Thus :
Head forester .
Eight woodmen at 18s. a-week
realised asset of waste land, warning us not to assume that, as has been asserted, "any land yielding a smaller net rental than 8s. an acre for agriculture or pasture will now pay better under timber." Still, the State forests of Germany, where labour is cheaper than in Britain, show a net revenue averaging over all just 11s. an acre, as going concerns, and there are many hundred thousand acres in Scotland and Ireland suitable for planting rented at from 6d. to 2s. an acre. Such land would not lie waste in Germany, where, "notwithstanding the very large acreage that is
already under woodlands, every convenient opportunity is taken to convert waste lands into plantations."
It is obvious to anybody acquainted, even superficially, with land management that no ordinary landowner can contemplate planting in blocks of 500, 1000, or 2000 acres. Even if he could find the capital necessary for the expense of planting, which cannot be reckoned at less than £6 an acre, and meet the annual bill for wages, &c., which may be taken at £650 for 1000 acres,1 and at
£120 0 0
52 10 0 374 8 0 103
£650 0 0
This is assuming the employment of one man upon every hundred acres, which will be necessary until the forest is a going concern, but it is far above what is found necessary in Germany. "The extent," says Dr Nisbet, "to which, per 100 acres, labour is required in the German woodlands cannot be fixed. In 1883 Danckelmann estimated that the actual cost of labour necessary in woodlands was, per acre per annum, 2.1 shillings in Prussia, 26 in Saxony, 3.7 in
£550 for every additional 1000 acres, he must submit to locking up all this money until the returns begin about twenty years after planting. That the investment would pay handsomely in the end may be assumed with a certainty based on the statistics of foreign forests. Upon this point we are more confident than Dr Nisbet seems to be. We agree with him that
"wildly sanguine estimates have often been made-not only long ago, but even down to the present time about the profit of transforming vast stretches of waste lands into woodlands. It is easy to juggle with figures and make a plausible show of certain profit two or three generations hence, and there is a sort of fascination about calculations of this sort."
Yet I cannot share Dr Nisbet's apprehension that, supposing a forest is being managed on economic principles, there would be any difficulty in finding a profitable market for the products.
"Any great increase in the present woodland area throughout the United Kingdom must go hand in hand with the encouragement and improvement of existing wood - consuming industries and the creation and fostering of new ones before it is possible that any large investment of national capital in this direction is likely to have any fair chance of assuring direct monetary profit."
Considering that we are already buying wood and wood products from the foreigner to the tune of £32,000,000 a-year, it does not seem that there is
any lack of wood-consuming industries in Great Britain. As Dr Nisbet informs us, the chairmakers of Bucks are using more wood than the local beechwoods can supply, and depend to a large extent upon foreign imports. As to the creation of new industries, they cannot be thought of till the forest is in being. For instance, there is not a single wood-pulp factory in the United Kingdom, because there is no wood to pulp. Given the wood, and the pulping mills would follow fast enough.
"The first wood-pulp factory was started in Saxony about 1854, and the first cellulose factory about 1874; and there are now in Germany alone, to say nothing of Austria, Sweden, and Norway, over 600 pulp - mills using nearly 36,000,000 cubic feet of wood [per annum], and 71 cellulose factories consuming about 30,000,000 cubic feet. And these are still com
paratively new industries, capable of enormous expansion, and likely in time to raise the price of the softer woods suited for this trade-willow, poplar, birch, lime, and the softer conifers" (vol. i. p. 85).
In spite of the incessant and growing demand for timber in this country, the complaint is commonly heard from landowners that they cannot be sure of a market for good trees even when they have them to offer. Dr Nisbet has explained the cause of this in one of his other books:
"Available markets cannot be utilised to the best advantage if the quantity of wood offered one year is
Alsace-Lorraine, 5.1 in Würtemberg, and 5.3 in Baden; but these data are apt to mislead, as the two last evidently include extraction (timber-slides and floating) done by Government and repaid indirectly by the buyer." But surely this is expense which must not be left out of account.
large, the next small, a third year wanting altogether, and so on irregularly. 'First a hunger, then a burst,' is bad in this as in all other
To ensure profitable trade the producer must secure proper business connection, and for that two things are necessary, as every greengrocer knows - regularity of supply and uniformity of quality.
To show that sound management will ensure profitable returns from British woodland, even in the present condition of the home trade, the balancesheet of the Novar woods in Ross-shire may be cited, as
furnished from the estate office.
Average annual income from, and expenditure on, Novar woods during
Realised by the sale of 93,537 cubic feet (average annual gross revenue)
In fact, the Novar average a better system is applied to for 1895-99 appears almost exactly the same per acre as that of the German State forests for 1892-96-viz., 11s. per acre; but an allowance must be made in respect of the Scots acre, probably in force at Novar, which contains 6104 square yards as against 4840 square yards in the Imperial acre. On the other hand, the German State forests have been kept in regular rotation of crop for many generations, whereas in the Novar woodland occurred the dislocating and wasteful interval between 1850 and 1881, when no planting or natural regeneration took place.
But we have State forests already, some reader may object, and, so far from paying, there is a heavy deficit on them.1 What on earth is the use of extending them? None whatever, is the reply, unless
them. At present they are run as a combination of landscape-gardening, game-preservation, and common - grazing. In 1851 a well-directed effort was made to put that noble Crown demesne, the New Forest, upon a businesslike footing. An Act was passed, providing for successive enclosing and planting; but after 5000 acres had been so treated, there arose a hullabaloo. Parliament, always too prone to yield to pressure from an uninstructed public in matters of sentiment, hastily passed another Act in 1877, putting a stop to the excellent work in progress, and decreeing that while the enclosures should at no time exceed 16,000 acres out of the total 64,737 acres, no ground should be enclosed except what had been planted since the year 1700. The ancient
1 The Report of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for 1903-4 shows £32,481 receipts from the Royal and State forests, against £58,402 expenditure, a net loss of £25,921.