December 2015

How sustainable is stump and root harvesting for bioenergy production?

Extraction of tree stumps and roots is commonplace in the Brecklands as a measure to reduce the risk of tree disease, but its introduction into the British Uplands during the 2000s raised concerns that soil disturbance during extraction could be environmentally detrimental. However, such concerns were largely based on evidence from overseas because there was little or no information under British conditions. A project was initiated to study the nature of soil disturbance resulting from British stump harvesting in 2010, supported by the Forestry Commission, University of Stirling and UPM-Tilhill (now Tillhill Forestry). Andy Moffat was one of three supervisors for this project but its successful outcome was very largely due to the energy and intellect of Dr Jeff Collison, the main investigator. The study showed that stump harvesting can cause disturbance up to five times that measured under trench mounding, a conventional method of site preparation. Such disturbance may be unacceptable in peaty soils where oxidation of soil carbon may counteract environmental benefits from using woody biomass rather than fossil fuels to generate energy. The results of the research have now been published by Scottish Forestry, the journal of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society. To access the paper, click HERE.

Taking account of climate change in regeneration of brownfield land

Climate change is set to permeate all aspects of our lives and, indeed, in many cases is already doing so. Land regeneration already includes planning for non-average weather phenomena but it is vital that future brownfield regeneration takes climate change fully into account too. A J Moffat & Associates has worked with Forest Research to produce one of their Best Practice Guidance (BPG) Notes on this subject, published today. Along with many other helpful BPGs on land regeneration (go to, the new one can be accessed HERE. The BPG describes the most important climate impacts for reclamation technologies and aftercare, and gives guidance on how to assimilate climate change projections in brownfield regeneration design and greenspace management.