UK Timber Industry (Posted 09.11.14)

Timber Industry Launches ‘Growing our Low Carbon Economy’ Manifesto.

The UK timber industry has launched a new report highlighting its role in boosting the low-carbon economy and delivering the sustainable jobs, growth and homes our economy and society need.

Divided into four main sections – Low-carbon economy; Sustainable jobs & growth; Homes for the future; and Health & wellbeing - the report list 12 key policy areas the Government should focus upon to boost the economy while simultaneously reducing emissions.

David Hopkins, Executive Director of Wood for Good, the timber industry communications and promotion campaign, said: “There has never been a clearer need for policies which can kick-start sustainable economic growth without increasing emissions. The timber industry is one supply chain that can help achieve this. It has the capacity to grow fast, provide employment across the skills spectrum, while manufacturing the future-proofed, low-carbon homes we so desperately need. All the while, the increased demand for timber products drives investment back into the forests helping reduce emissions further. As politicians start preparing their manifestos for 2015 we urge them to acknowledge the role that this natural low-carbon supply chain already provides.”

Iain McilWee, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation said: “Most political parties have now recognised that house-building is one area which can help boost economic growth while meeting social need. The timber industry plays a vital role in that, not only in manufacturing high-quality homes, but also the component parts therein – windows, floors, doors, walls, furniture and so on. We have a vibrant manufacturing industry in the UK producing all of these items. If we are to see sustainable growth in supply of homes, we also need policy which supports the production of all of these items across the supply chain. This report is a good starting point for policy makers to engage with the industry.”

The report has the backing of all of the timber industry trade associations, working together under the banner of the Timber Accord. Industry representatives have presented the report in person to a number of national and local politicians where it has been well received. A full roll out to policy makers across the UK begins this week.

Valued at over £8.5 billion by the Office of National Statistics, the forestry and timber supply chain is in the top 20 major industries in the UK. It directly employs 150,000 people across all regions and all levels of skill and qualification – from forestry, land and habitat management to joinery and manufacturing, engineering and architectural design.

In the construction sector alone, wood related trades account for around 10% of all jobs. This is an established supply chain with huge potential for rapid growth.

Timber is a natural, renewable material with roughly five new trees being planted for each one harvested in managed European forests. Over 90% of timber traded by Timber Trade Federation members in the UK comes from certified sustainable sources such as FSC and PEFC.

It is one of the safest & cheapest forms of carbon capture and storage available, absorbing nearly one tonne of carbon dioxide for every cubic metre of timber. Just a four per cent increase in the UK’s forest cover would reduce national CO2 emissions by 10% by 2050.

It also requires very low energy inputs throughout the manufacturing supply chain giving it one of the lowest embodied carbon impacts of any material.

Lifecycle assessment studies – available via Wood for Good – have shown that timber products have a carbon negative impact on cradle to gate basis. That is, they have actually absorbed and stored more carbon emissions during growth than is emitted as a result of harvesting, processing and transporting to site. This provides a natural emissions reduction mechanism through the supply chain.

The report starts with a quote from architect Michael Green: “Wood is the most advanced material we can build with. The Earth grows our food. The Earth can grow our homes. It is an ethical change we have to go through.”

The full report, “Growing our Low Carbon Economy” is available for download via Wood for Good: by clicking on the image opposite...