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Timber is an enduring and renewable building material, with up to 90% of the timber used in the UK coming from certified sustainable sources such as the FSC and the PEFC. Across the forests of Europe, five trees are planted for every one harvested, with much of the remaining imported timber coming from well managed forest providers from across the globe. As a net carbon contributor, roughly one tonne of carbon is stored for every cubic metre of timber used, its credentials to be at the heart of net zero by 2050 are unquestionable.

With the need to increase sustainability and to support the economy in the UK, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs has tabled a 25-year Environment Plan which states:

“…using resources from nature more sustainably & efficiently…increasing timber supplies”

This focus is further reinforced with a commitment to create new forests on both private and the least productive agricultural land, with an ambition to plant 11 million trees. This policy puts timber at the centre of the future for building, with an increase in ‘home grown timber used in England in construction, creating a conveyor belt of locked-in carbon in our homes and buildings. A wide range of economic and environmental benefits will flow from commercial afforestation to meet the growing demand for timber’. This long-term supply of English grown timber is designed to meet current and future increases in demand.

This project will also keep the Public Forest Estate in trust for the nation and indicates not only the environmental but also the social benefits it contributes for present and future generations to enjoy.

As well as being a sustainable building material, timber adds to a sustainable, home grown economy, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) valuing the forestry and timber sector at over £8.5 billion, placing it in the top 20 major industries in the UK. The sector also provides a wealth of employment opportunities across all the regions of the UK, offering training and skills in a diverse number of ways, 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.

With this overwhelming move towards a greener and more sustainable society, with the growth of forestry in the UK, the trees that are grown need to be used, otherwise they will rot and release the CO2 captured, thereby making the planting pointless. Therefore the circular economy of creating new forests to grow more trees, harvesting and using them for construction is a simple, but effective, sustainable and economic argument to support the fact that Now is the Time for Timber.

“There is a huge opportunity for England’s woodlands to drive a sustainable economic revival, to improve the health and well-being of the nation, and to provide better and more connected places for nature. We need a new culture of thinking and action around wood and woodlands, and a new way of valuing and managing the natural and social capital of our woodland resource, alongside the timber they contain.”

The former Right Reverend Bishop James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool, Chairman of the Independent Panel on Forestry established by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

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