Northwoods is looking to understand whether the production of biochar could be a stimulant for bringing into management typical un/under managed woodland by adding value to lower grade woodland products. Northwoods are looking for individuals interested in this area who could undertake research to provide insights into the potential of biochar production to bring woodlands into management. We anticipate that this opportunity would suit students undertaking research as part of a masters degree.

Research Project Background

Proactive and sustainable woodland management increases the benefits that woodlands provide, including increasing biodiversity, flood alleviation, timber production, rural income and jobs, water quality improvements, soil health improvements, air quality improvements, carbon sequestration, climate change resilience, landscape protection, food production, health and wellbeing and recreation facilities. In the face of accelerating climate change impacts and the UK being the third largest net importer of timber in the world, there is an urgent need to increase and improve the flow of these benefits for society, the environment, and the economy.

However, the number of woodlands in management has remained fairly constant for a number of years, with only around 50%[1]of the total area of the UK’s private woodlands actively and sustainably managed[2].There are a number of reasons and barriers to this which are well understood[3][4][5]and funding woodland management activities is one of the primary challenges. There is significant scope and benefits to increasing the number of actively managed woodlands in the UK, as well as significant opportunity for owners to define and/or meet their own woodland objectives.

There is a growing interest and action in the production and application of biochar to deliver a range of valuable products, such as soil improver, carbon sequestration, animal feed additive, activated carbon, construction materials and bioliquids. A variety of materials can be used to produce biochar, including products of woodland management, and further research is required and underway to understand various components of biochar including its stability, lifespan, and uses.

Research Objectives

The research should focus on the potential of biochar production in un/undermanaged woodlands and should aim to provide insight into some or all of the following :

·       the potential markets for biochar in the NE& Yorkshire, including end consumers, routes to market etc.

·       the potential market size (volume of biochar)and value for each of these markets

·       the main factors which producers would need totake into account when accessing these markets e.g. customer preferences,potential barriers, USPs etc

·       any partnerships that would be necessary inorder to access markets and/or influence sales

·       the practical difficulties in obtaining biocharfrom the target woodlands in the NE & Yorkshire and how this may impact ontarget markets

The research should consider:

-       Sustainable forestry yields

-       The UK Forestry Standard

-       Biomass cascading principles[6]

-       That un/under managed woodlands are likely to be relatively small, probably broadleaf, potentially of conservation benefit, and owned by inactive owners.

Project Area

The research should primarily focus on the potential of the wider North East and Yorkshire area, although it is acknowledged that the forestry sector is peripatetic in nature and operates across boundaries, thus the research is not strictly limited to this geography. Economies of scale may also encourage transboundary co-ordination. It is anticipated, based on the scale of woodland management and products available from private woodlands, that the research focus may extend beyond the specified region in the North of England and border area, although it is not expected to go much beyond that.

Project Sponsor

The Northwoods Innovation Programme aims to increase active woodland management by developing, disseminating, and supporting innovation to help overcome barriers preventing management. As part of the programme, Northwoods has a team of experts that are able to provide support for innovators. This research brief was borne following a query for research and evidence around the production and market potential of biochar following woodland management activities such as coppicing.

The Northwoods Innovation Programme is delivered by a consortium of experts with a track record of delivering innovative projects and initiatives. Reheat, a multi-disciplinary biomass engineering and forestry consultancy, host the programme. Martin Glynn has 30+ years’ experience in theforestry and rural business. RDI Associates are a team of rural development, forestry, and training specialists. Sylva Foundation support the development and application of sustainable forest management for the public benefit. TimberAuctions operate Europe’s leading online roundwood marketing service. Green Business Finance provide financial support and advice to small and medium enterprises.

Support from Northwoods

Northwoods Innovation Programme can provide support to any researcher through the provision of knowledge and networks. The researcher would have access to experienced Foresters and woody biomass experts directly within the Northwoods consortium. We can also assist by providing access to the forestry sector, woodland owners, and biochar experts.

Whilst Northwoods cannot fund any research directly, there is the potential for financial support to reimburse expenses incurred on the project. This would be agreed upon with the researcher and Northwoods in advance of any expenses incurred.  

Time scales

The research project should aim to be completed by the end of February 2025.

Interested? Get in touch!

Anyone interested in undertaking this research or with knowledge of this area is encouraged to get in touch with Northwoods by contacting Rosanna Curtis, Northwoods Innovation Programme Project Manager, on either or phoning 07552 797 085.




[1] Forestry-Commission-Key-Performance-Indicators-Report-2022-23.pdf(

[2]Sustainably managed is woodland managed to the UK Forestry Standard that has a Woodland Management Plan, or for which Forestry Commission have provided a grant or felling licence in the last 15 years.

[3] British Woodlands Survey – Sylva Foundation

[4] Bringing Woodland into Management: the missed opportunities in England and Wales - Royal Forestry Society (

[5] Management-of-Existing-UK-Woodlands-An-Opportunity-for-Green-Prosperity.pdf(

[6] Cascading of woody biomass: definitions, policies and effects on international trade |Bioenergy (