Research, Development and Innovation

Tilhill is at the forefront for the vital research and latest technology needed to ensure the health of our forests and woodlands both now and for the future.

Which tree species – get it right!

The challenges of climate change, pests and diseases necessitate the need to give much thought to ensuring that woodlands have the resilience to deal with future changes to their environment and the challenges this brings. This means that now, more than ever, the right tree species choice is going to be critical for the health of UK forests and woodlands and for your investment in future crops.

Tilhill is actively involved in researching which species to plant in the future to provide the best resilience to pests, diseases and climate change. This means we are in an unparalleled position to guide owners through the task of deciding which species to plant taking into consideration all the key potential threats to our trees.

Weevil research

Our research into how to prevent weevils eating the young shoots of newly planted Sitka spruce is an ongoing project. The ultimate aim being to find a reliable, environmentally-friendly alternative to insecticides.

The main pest affecting trees at restocking is pine weevils, who eat the bark of young saplings during two main feeding periods, in the spring and late summer. Experience shows that 100% of the crop can be lost to weevils.

Historically, we have used insecticides to control them, but we are trying to move into environmentally-friendly insecticides. Tilhill is active in the essential research needed to achieve this goal.

Conifer Breeding Co-operative

The Conifer Breeding Co-operative was formed to help safeguard the investment made by FC Forest Research in conifer breeding for the benefit of UK forests.

Tilhill is proud to be able to play its part in this project, together with Forest Research, Forestry Commission and Maelor Forest Nurseries.

The Co-operative also aims to ensure that an adequate supply of improved full sibling Sitka Spruce is maintained for growers, and that the Sitka Spruce breeding programme is taken forward.

For more information visit the Conifer Breeding Co-operative website: www.conifercoop.co.uk

Future Trees Trust

Future Trees Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to improving broadleaved trees by conventional selective breeding, to ensure broadleaved trees can produce high quality timber, are resilient to pests and diseases, can adapt to climate change and sequester more carbon.

Tilhill is proud to support their research alongside DEFRA and Maelor Forest Nurseries who currently supply improved material for planting. Also, in support of their Living Ash Project to combat the disease https://www.futuretrees.org/

Investing in new technology

Accurately predicting the value of standing timber in a forest is good practice for both our customers and ourselves alike.

Tilhill has led the way in trialling the use of 3D laser scanners and innovative analytics in order to be more accurate and cost-effective in our measurement of trees before harvesting.

This new system may offer the opportunity to accurately predict standing volume and model product assortment and value. If so, then there is a possibility of selling standing timber on a volume measure and the real prospect of increasing the value per hectare to the forest owner.

Forestry and Plastics

Tilhill is a proud founding member of the Forestry Plastics Group an industry group started in January 2020 alongside Forestry Commission, Yorkshire Dales National Park and Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust and the support of Confor.

The group works together to find sustainable alternatives to traditional plastic tubes. We have been undertaking tree tube trials of alternatives and working with Maelor Forest Nurseries to look for plastic tree bag alternatives.