The roots of the manifesto12 November 2011
John Kissock, chairman of Wood for Good, sets out the aims of the campaign’s new manifesto
• The manifesto will form the basis of dialogue with politicians, trade associations and professional bodies.
• It is shaped around the environment, economic growth and social stability.
• The manifesto can be downloaded from the Wood for Good website.
• It has seven policy points.
This has been something of a renaissance year for Wood for Good in which we have re-emerged with a new image, new content, new projects and a renewed vigour.
Before we embarked on our relaunch we went through a period of frank self-evaluation, questioning the very nature of why we exist and what we want to achieve.
As reported in TTJ in January, we believed that Wood for Good needed to be more than a campaign focused solely on the “Carbon Co2ts Less” argument. We recognised a need for a single and universal campaign to drive usage by targeting every level of the built environment’s supply chain, including those who legislate it, with an individually tailored message.
It was with one eye on the corridors of power, to those who have the capacity to influence demand for timber through their policies, that we decided to create a manifesto.
The manifesto, we agreed, should become the cornerstone of our discussions with politicians and major stakeholders and must include every conceivable reason why promoting the use of timber is beneficial for all in society.
Triple bottom line
It was at this point that we came full circle and back to sustainability once again. Taken in its truest sense, sustainability encompasses the promotion of better environmental stewardship but also has long-term economic growth and social stability as its cornerstone.
Together these three areas make up the “triple bottom line” and it was our aim to shape the manifesto around each in order to develop a coherent narrative that placed timber at its core.
In this way we feel we have presented an argument that no other mainstream building material can match. Attempts have been made by other lobbying groups to discredit wood’s environmental merits with dubious claims about life cycle assessment – something we’ve aimed to refute in the manifesto using some helpful research from The American Hardwood Export Council. But we have taken the lead in demonstrating that the need for wood extends beyond debates about carbon.
Anything that Wood for Good does is designed to benefit the entire industry and the manifesto is no exception. What makes this different, however, is that its very strength lies in the backing it has from across the sector.
It was always our intention to consult the sector’s trade associations as we developed the document but as their input began to shape it we wanted them to become part of it. Together we speak more loudly with one voice.
Basis for dialogue
Principally, our manifesto is the political face of the Wood for Good campaign and it will form the basis of all our dialogue with politicians, trade associations or professional bodies. However, it can bring enormous value to any scenario where there is an attempt to educate someone from outside our industry about the sustainable merits and potential of timber.
We want people to visit our website (www.woodforgood.com) and download the manifesto to share with others. Its arguments, grounded in verifiable and quoted research, provide a powerful tool to convert the cynical.
What our industry sometimes forgets is that in a nation with a much lower consumption of timber than in Europe and North America the premise that cutting down trees is good for the environment is counter-intuitive to the average person’s assumptions about sustainability.
At the heart of the manifesto is an acknowledgement that we must address these basic misconceptions so that one day the concept that harvesting wood from sustainable sources is good for our planet becomes a widely established and unquestioned fact.