Celebrating opportunity

20 July 2017

The Grown in Britain campaign is celebrating its fourth anniversary and has made progress on its mission to promote British timber, says its CEO Dougal Driver

Anniversaries are not simply for looking back. They provide an opportunity to put a marker in the sand – or, more appropriately in our case, the sawdust – from which to move forward.

At Grown in Britain we celebrate our fourth anniversary this month. We can demonstrate solid progress in garnering support from either end of the supply chain, from timber producers and major construction contractors, for using British-grown timber.

Most major contractors have signed up to a timber preference statement in favour of “timber assured as Grown in Britain”, and have committed to asking suppliers whether they can supply products as Britishgrown as part of their procurement processes.

We now have a licensing system in place, following products through the supply chain from their origins in a British woodland that meets government criteria for sustainable and legal harvesting.

Products as far removed from each other as firewood and furniture are licensed to use the Grown in Britain logo. Leading companies in associated fields, such as Lonza Wood Protection, are coming on board with promotional licensing, utilising the connection with Grown in Britain to resonate closely with their customers’ values.

We still have a long way to go to bring substantial quantities of private woodland back into management: our long-term aim is to increase wood supply to meet growing demand.

It’s estimated that there are millions more tonnes of useable timber now existing that could be harvested from Britain’s forests and woodlands. Persuading woodland owners that they are contributing to – not detracting from – sustainability by allowing their woodlands to be managed is an ongoing task. Our recent video on woodland resource management for profitable harvesting and biodiversity is a further step along that journey.

Looking forward from this anniversary, with a growing volume from the supply side on board, we have started along the central path of connecting up markets through partnerships with key trade organisations.

We are working more closely with colleagues at the British Woodworking Federation, and have launched a strategic partnership with the Builders Merchants Federation. Helping joiners and merchants to make the most of the ‘British connection’ in their marketing is essential.

In the timber trade, we are about to tackle long-held views and outdated beliefs about British-grown timber, its quality and its availability.

Where we have been able to add most to the value chain is in social value, harvesting much more than timber. Bringing woodlands back into management, and importantly buying and promoting assured Britishgrown timber, creates opportunities and jobs in local communities. In turn, this benefits local economies.

This very unique return on investment is augmented by the potential for improving UK plc’s carbon emissions, by reducing ‘wood miles’ and encouraging forest regeneration for the future.

In short, Grown in Britain’s fourth anniversary shows we’ve come a fair distance, yet with a great deal farther to travel. The winner of last year’s TTJ Innovation Award, which emerged from a Grown in Britain research project, demonstrates that there are profitable uses for many forms of British-grown timber.