Panel report gets thumbs-up from trade

23 July 2012

The timber trade has given further positive reaction to the publication of the Independent Panel on Forestry’s final report to government.

As reported in TTJ, the panel has made the bold recommendation that incentives be used to encourage use of wood products, including local authorities using their Local Plans to introduce a "wood first" policy for construction projects to increase use of wood in buildings.

The panel also recommends forest cover in England be increased from 10% to 15% and that wood-based industries and technologies are made a priority area for support by the Green Investment Bank.

Timber Trade Federation chief executive John White described the report as fantastic, showing the multiple value streams that the economy, environment and society could derive from an active forestry and timber sector.

He said the Wood First policy had been the "backbone" of the Wood for Good campaign and he looked forward to seeing this progressed by the government.

"As an industry we need to take this report to all policy makers and ensure the recommendations are implemented," he said.

A timber industry consortium which met the panel during the consultation phase also pledged support for the panel recommendations.

The consortium, comprising Egger (UK) Ltd, BSW Timber, James Jones and Sons and Iggesund Paper Board, particularly backed the proposal to expand forests.

"The key recommendation for us is the expansion of England's woodlands from 10% to 15% by 2060 to support the future viability of the timber sector," said group spokesperson Hamish Macleod of BSW Timber.

"More than £1.6bn has been invested in sawmills, paper and board mills over the last 15 years, with a further £2bn earmarked for the next 15 years, safeguarding existing jobs and creating more jobs. This investment has been built on the basis of sustainable and long-term supply."

Other key panel recommendations include a single methodology to account for the full greenhouse gas benefits of using timber products and permit its use as part of carbon accounting and not selling off the pubic forests.

The government is due to respond to the recommendations by January next year.