Oh how times have changed! When I was at the British Woodworking Federation, beginning in the mid-90s, wood was perceived as an environmentally unfriendly material, but now demand is again growing. The wider UK timber industry can surely only look back with disbelief at how we had previously got things wrong for so long!

Now it’s more important than ever not to forget the hard-won lessons.

Firstly, we must remind everyone of timber’s environmental credentials. We must continue to take – and make – every opportunity to communicate our message in the most effective way. We have to be seen to be working with the environmental lobby groups. Using certificated sources of timber is not an option – it’s a must. Every seller of timber must be able to demonstrate chain of custody.

Secondly, every company selling timber in the UK has to play its part in supporting a comprehensive and ongoing programme of promoting this wonder material.

Finally, and not least of all, merchants dealing with builders, joiners and DIYers must have staff who are properly trained and ensure that the timber they sell is always of good quality and fit for purpose. Merchant staff mustn’t be intimidated by customers who only want to buy the cheapest timber with no regard to its intended use. Merchants have clear responsibilities – moral and legal – to make their customers aware of the relevant Building Regulations and Codes of Practice.

Under the BMF’s new Product Support strategy it is especially committed to helping its members in this area. The BMF’s new Selling Guides are designed to provide clear, concise and relevant information to help members keep abreast of the latest standards and give them the confidence to recommend the most suitable timber products to customers. In conjunction with its £1m annual training business, the BMF is going all out to help the 200 of its members who now sell timber – that’s 20 more than a year ago!

The future’s bright for timber merchants!