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the year 1907-8, the figures given under the head of 'Royal Forests and Woodlands' are as follows:

£
Revenue 23,904 30
Expenditure

25,171 i7 6
Net loss 1,267 14 6
25,171 17 6

25,171 17 6 It is to be noted that there are included in the revenue upwards of 70001. representing rent of land and houses, and 7001. received for shooting licences in the New Forest. Also that Windsor Park and Forest are not included in the account, the gross revenue from that domain being only 65431. earned by an expenditure of 30,5631., bringing out a deficit of over 24,0001. Of the revenue earned, 37181. represents rent of land and houses. On the other hand, in the expenditure are included such items as 36601. for building a chaplain's house, 7431. for food for deer, game and stock, and a host of other charges which have no relation to forestry.

No unfavourable reflection can be made upon the Commissioners of Woods and Forests because of this unsatisfactory result. They have administered the State forests in the past according to the instructions given them by Parliament-namely, as a mixture of picnic ground, common grazing, and landscape gardening. It is satisfactory to note a reform in management since Mr. Stafford Howard became Senior Commissioner. Not only have some of the Crown woods been put under a regular working plan, but land has been acquired in Argyllshire and in Wales for conversion into forest. The grants hitherto made to a few educational institutions were of little practical value without access to any woodland, where the lessons learnt in laboratory and lecture room could be enforced by demonstration.

There is one point in the Commissioners' scheme which it is not easy to understand. Upon what basis of growth and values have they founded their estimate of 17,411,0001. as the equalised annual revenue from 9,000,000 acres of forest ? That means a net profit of nearly 21. per acre per annum over the whole area, whereas the highest return from any German State forest is 258. 4d. in Würtemberg, and the lowest 48. 10d. in Oldenburg. Professor Schlich, indeed, considers that,

owing to the difference in climate, the production of timber in these islands will be more rapid than in Saxony,' and adds that, whereas the revenue from Saxony forests represents 21 per cent. on capital valuation, personally I am satisfied that we could count on 3 to 31 per cent. return.' This seems to leave out of account the adverse fact that a considerable proportion of the 9,000,000 acres to be planted lies above the 1000 feet level, where tree growth is far slower than it is below that height. In fact, those who have experience in Scottish planting will probably hesitate to admit that forestry can be undertaken with the slightest prospect of profit at a greater elevation than 1000, or at most 1200 feet.

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Again, Continental foresters enjoy one constant source of revenue upon which we cannot calculate in this country-namely, firewood. The Commissioners make passing allusion to this, but reckon against it the higher prices commanded by timber in this country, forgetting, apparently, that one of the chief arguments in favour of afforestation is to keep the price of timber at a reasonable figure. Over far the greater part of Europe, wood is the universal fuel ; every stick in the forest is worked up into faggots; but in this country' lop and top'counts for nothing in timber sales, and in most counties it is burnt as waste.

Perhaps the recommendation of the Commissioners that powers should be conferred upon the Forestry authority to acquire land compulsorily is that to which strongest objection will be taken, and it must be admitted that the natural repugnance of the citizen to expropriation is not unreasonable. But the principle has long since been admitted and constantly acted upon that private rights may be bought up compulsorily for the public good. Railway construction, school buildings, burial grounds, military camps, small holdings, all require that the individual shall give way where the interest of the Community can be shown to require it. Professor Schlich has strongly criticised this proposal in a letter to the Times (22nd of February 1909). He perceives' every probability of private proprietors participating on a liberal scale in the work of afforestation, rather than see their land expropriated.' Speaking as a landowner I must confess myself utterly unable to share his confidence in this matter. Very few indeed are the landowners who could afford to lock

up

the requisite capital for the space of two or three generations, and those few who could do so lack the power of insuring continuous good management on the part of their successors. Other deterrents from private forestry enterprise are the rating of immature growing woods ; death duties which may have to be paid two or three times before the crop is ripe for the axe; perhaps greatest of all, the uncertain political future before private ownership of land, which is at once the most visible and vulnerable form of property. Here is no question of eviction ; the Forest Commissioners would be very different from what we have learnt to regard as the typical Civil Servants if they were to exercise their powers in an arbitrary, inconsiderate or tyrannical manner. Without those powers, they would be unable to carry out any scheme, on whatever scale, of national afforestation ; but it is improbable that they would often have to use them.

The Commission considered carefully a co-operative scheme, recommended by Lord Lovat, whereby the State and the private owner should become co-partners, the former providing the capital, the latter the land, profits to be shared pro rata of the value of their respective contributions. The proposal is not free from the objections to all forms of dual ownership, which has landed us in a pretty mess in Ireland, and the inequality of the partnership in this case would be enhanced

VOL, LXV-No. 386

X X

by the exemption of one partner from death duties to which the other would be liable at recurrent intervals. For it must be borne in mind that in matters of forestry everything must be undertaken with a view to perpetuity.

One may feel unable to share to the full with the Commissioners their sanguine estimate of the financial result of forestry as an investment, and hesitate before embarking upon such a vast scheme as they recommend, and yet feel fully convinced by the case they have made out for afforestation of areas sufficiently large and continuous to bring the cost of supervision as low as possible and to ensure the creation of well-sheltered woodland.

The case rests upon two main considerations. (1) The rapidly increasing consumption of timber coupled with the disappearance of accessible forest; (2) the value of afforestation as a source of employment, and a check upon rural depopulation.

(1) Much stress was laid by the Committees of 1885 and 1902 upon the prospect of a dearth of timber and its consequent effect upon the trade and manufactures of the United Kingdom. The Committee of 1902 were of opinion that 'the world is rapidly approaching a shortage, if not an actual dearth, in its supply of coniferous timber, which constitutes between 80 and 90 per cent. of the total British timber imports.” This warning is repeated in the Report of the Royal Commission.

The very serious shortage of the world's timber supply, to which we must apparently look forward, would appear to place the United Kingdom, which has benefited so richly from the exploitation of natural forests, under some obligation to replenish the stock by methodical afforestation if posterity is not to be gravely hampered by the shortage of a raw material necessary to its industries.

There is, indeed, not a single important industry in this country that does not depend upon an abundant and reasonably cheap supply of timber. So long as foreign forests could meet these requirements, it was a matter of no moment to the British manufacturer or mineowner that he was consuming imported material which, under proper management, might be produced at home; but the rapid industrial expansion of certain countries, notably the United States and the German Empire, has not only cut off the supplies formerly derived from their forests, but has brought them into the timber market as purchasers in competition with ourselves. Twenty years ago the United States could send us as much timber as we cared to take from them; but in 1892 the American Secretary of Agriculture warned the Government in his Annual Report that 'the white pine forests which, a few years ago seemed so great that to attempt an accurate estimate of them was deemed too difficult an undertaking, have since then become reduced to such small proportions that the end of the whole supply, both in Canada and the United States, is now plainly in view.' The end, in the United States at least, came even more swiftly than the Minister foresaw, and for the last ten years they have been importing timber from Canada of the average annual value of 2,600,0001. Both

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the American and the Canadian Governments have now taken alarmthe first having adopted regulations against reckless lumbering, the second having under consideration measures for checking the inordinate consumption of their forests by American pulp mills.

Similarly the German Empire, formerly one of our sure sources of supply, cannot now meet its own requirements from the native forests, although these are more successfully managed than any in the world and produce timber of the estimated value of 22,000,0001. per annum."

At present Sweden and Western France are the chief European • sources of our supply of coniferous timber, the French imports consisting almost exclusively of pit wood from the Landes, formerly a malarial desert of 1,500,000 acres, now, thanks to the timely foresight of the French Government, a thriving pine forest, yielding an annual revenue of 600,0001. to 800,0001. a year. This supply is not likely to fail, but the prospect in Sweden is affected by what took place when the British duties on imported timber were reduced in 1842 to 308. a load for sawn wood, and 24s. for hewn, further reduced in 1851 to 108, and 78. 6d. a load respectively, and abolished altogether in 1866.

This gave so great a stimulus to the Swedish lumber and sawmilling industries as to cause reckless felling and destruction of the most accessible forests, the effect whereof is now being felt, and will probably reduce the output for twenty years to come.

The extent to which the United Kingdom has come to rely upon foreign imports of timber, and the progressive rate of our consumption during a period of twenty years, may be seen in the following tables compiled from the Statistical Abstract:

.

A.-QUANTITIES OF WOOD AND TIMBER IMPORTED.

(A load of Timber—40 to 50 cubic feet-1 ton.)

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Dye-woods, tanning materials, wood-pulp boards and some other forest products are not included in this return.

' Dr. Nisbet states that the imports of timber into the German Empire average 4,500,000 tons annually, valued at nearly 15,000,0001. (The Forester, vol. i. p. 84, 1905).

B.-DECLARED VALUE OF WOOD AND TIMBER IMPORTED.

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In three classes only has there been a decrease in the quantity imported, namely, unenumerated hewn wood, 7.8 per cent., enumerated sawn wood, 18-3 per cent., and staves 8.8 per cent., but even in these the rise of value has been enough to cause an increase in the amount paid for the diminished quantity of 17-2, 100-2, and 3.9 per cent. respectively. The returns for 1907, a year of great industrial activity, will doubtless show a considerable advance, both in quantity and value, of timber imports. The coal trade was booming in that year, and the amount of hewn fir swallowed up annually by coal mines as prop-wood is enormous. It vexes one to perceive that the British Government and landowners have not only sacrificed by want of foresight the profit which they might have secured as producers, but have to pay far more dearly as consumers in competition with other industrial communities. The two classes of timber which bulk most largely in our imports-hewn and sawn fir—are just those which all experts agree in declaring could be most readily grown in the United Kingdom :

Your Commissioners (runs the Report) find that the comparative neglect and failure of sylviculture in the United Kingdom is not in any sense to be attributed to natural or inherent disadvantages of soil or climate, but that on the contrary the conditions which prevail in these islands are favourable to the production of high-class timber if scientifio methods of afforestation be pursued. . . . Even at present prices, sylviculture should prove a safe and remunerative investment; but when the highly probable advance in the value of timber is considered, it does not seem unduly optimistic to expect that enhanced profits will accrue.

The possibility of growing timber for profit in this country is regarded by many persons with scepticism, even by those who do not contest the universal opinion of Continental experts that our climate and great

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