For years now we have asked the question of food as consumer interest in the source of our food as well as a desire to support local farmers and a diversity of regional food has grown. It seems entirely logical that the same should apply to other materials and goods that we consume. In October 2013 the Grown in Britain movement was launched as a Government backed industry plan to create demand for British forest products, enable woodlands to come back into management and to harness our love for the nation’s forests and woodlands as key assets and valuable part of our lives.
Much has happened since then including Grown in Britain assured products being available on the shelves in DIY stores and yards. This is a clear means of selecting not just legal timber but also thinking about whose woodlands are we sustaining. British wood products provide a suitable product and sustain woodlands and forests, rural enterprises and jobs in this country. It is not unusual to find a mismatch in desire and reality. In the case of British hardwoods construction contractors wanted to use them but the hardwood supply sector was mismatched in scale and ‘shop window’ to what was often needed. An Innovate UK part funded project called ‘Woodstock’ now proposes solutions to increase home grown hardwood supply.
We can provide vastly more from our own woods! The UK currently consumes over 500,000 m3 of hardwood each year, much of which are species we grow in the UK, but less than 10% of this is obtained from UK sources. The research revealed that a 20% increase in UK production is quite possible in the short term, with a 100% plus increase possible over the medium term. A staggering 400,000 m3 could be available every single year for 40 years without reducing the overall stock still standing in the woods!
Further research revealed that many of the hardwood timber species we are importing have UK alternatives available and that, in most cases, there is believed to be sufficient quality logs available in our woodlands to meet the UK demand. The report focusses on five key UK species ash, oak, beech, sweet chestnut and sycamore. There is sufficient timber stocks and infrastructure capacity to supply greater quantities of hardwood timber, so why is this not happening? Talking to some of the major timber merchants, they do not want to deal with the many individual saw mills able to supply this timber; it is far easier for them to deal with one consolidation yard in the USA for example. Therefore there is a need for a single point of contact for the merchants where timber stocks from the saw mills around the UK can be purchased. The Grown in Britain ‘WoodStock’ project is proposing just this, in the form of an online virtual Buying Platform that can pool the available stocks in saw mills around the country and offer this for purchase.
A full copy of the final ‘Woodstock’ report can be downloaded from the Grown in Britain website.
The 4th Grown in Britain week is approaching, an annual celebration of all things forests, woodlands and forest products in Britain. BRE are delighted to be hosting the launch event conference at BRE on British timber in Construction on Monday 10th October 2016. Come and join us and learn from those that use British timber in their construction projects (Wilmott Dixon, Zed Factory), the research that underpins the material (Edinburgh Napier, WPA) and the wider resource opportunity (TRADA, Forestry Commission, Sustainable Construction Solutions). The conference is a unique chance to meet, see and discuss and also gain 4 hours of CPD on British Timber in Construction.
Grown in Britain: https://www.growninbritain.org/