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The joy of native hardwoods

Is there a market for Scottish-grown hardwood other than as biomass and woodfuel?

Luke Wilson asks sawmill owner Mark Councill of Logie Timber in the Findhorn valley near Forres.

Who are Logie Timber and what do you do?   

We are a relatively new company and it’s a partnership between myself and Alec Laing. The business encompasses a sawmill, wood drying kiln and showroom aimed at processing local Scottish trees to produce high quality timber products, with a focus on furniture grade hardwood.

We also offer services such as tree felling and extraction, planting and can also provide advice on the correct wood to be using for particular projects or connect you with local makers to build it for you. I like to think of this as the full circle approach. If it involves wood, we can help!

Alec and I both share a passion for developing a market for high quality timber in the region. I’m an established forester and tree surgeon in the local area and can source timber from forestry jobs where it would otherwise be a waste product or firewood.

Alec manages his family’s property, Logie Estate, which has a significant amount of timber including interesting woods that aren’t suitable for traditional commercial forestry which we can put to good use at the mill.

The idea of adding value to our local natural resources was the initial impetus to start Logie Timber.

What makes you unique?

We offer a full range of services but I think what makes us unique is our Boardroom. This is effectively our shop front. Based at Logie Steading, it’s filled with timber suitable for furniture, mantelpieces, cladding, fencing, table tops, turning blanks and offcuts. The general public can come in and pick a stunning piece of Scottish timber right off the shelf and take it away without the need to spend hours and hours sanding it down to get it smooth and level.

How do you source your timber? Is it difficult to find or has your business model overcome this?

We are in regular contact with forest managers, landowners and private individuals to source the timber we need. Sometimes we have specific requirements but we will always consider buying any timber, even if we don’t have a use for it straight away. 

Our business model has evolved to capitalise on the available timber and we work with the wood to take advantage of the unique character of individual logs. This means a lot of our products, especially hardwoods, are one-off and cannot bereplicated, which only adds to the appeal in my opinion.

There have been concerns that, although Scottish hardwood can be of high quality, the issue for industry has been consistency and availability. How do you think we could aim to change this?

Well this is interesting, I would be very cautious about pointing the finger at landowners or forest managers for the lack of availability. We can grow good quality hardwoods in Scotland, but without a market for the end product, it’s difficult to justify doing so.

I feel that, as a buyer, the responsibility is mine to develop a viable market and develop products that can drive this. Part of the solution is to first and foremost plant broadleaves that could be suitable for commercial use and secondly, bring existing broadleaved woodlands under active management.

What advice would you give landowners or agents who feel that they have trees that may be of interest?

All I can say is get in touch with us. Whether it’s a single tree or a woodland, we are always willing to come and have a chat. I really want to see thevalue of Scottish hardwood being used and kept in Scotland. Ideally I would like to see the efficiency of softwood sales transposed on to hardwood sales to demystify the process andcreate working relationships providing mutual benefits.

Finally, what is on the horizon for Logie Timber?

Our Boardroom has been a huge success and we are now planning a bigger showroom at the mill. This will allow us to hold a larger range of stock of various species and specifications ready for sale. The aim is to increase efficiency and make the buying process as smooth as possible.

This expansion inevitably comes with an increased requirement for timber and we see this as the first step in giving agents and landowners confidence that there will be a sizable market for Scottish hardwoods in the future if they decide to plant them.

luke.wilson@galbraithgroup.com

01463 245375