We sometimes wondered in the 1990s if UK police stations were being fitted out with swish hardwood fixtures and fittings.

This was the period when a preferred environmentalist protest against alleged illegal tropical timber trading was to invade merchants’ and importers’ yards and “confiscate” wood. They would then surrender this as “evidence” of the “crime” to the local police station. As far as I can recall, TTJ never discovered the fate of the wood, hence the suspicion that police desk sergeants ended up with nicer desks.

Given the long arm of the law, we’d like to stress that such theories were only voiced in jest. But there is a serious point here. TTJ couldn’t find out what happened to the timber because, faced with the greens’ media expertise, most companies understandably preferred to keep a low profile on the matter, however good their environmental record.

Today the situation couldn’t be more different. Green protests are not yet a thing of the past, but the industry feels it can now be much more upfront about its eco performance. It is getting the message out that the timber sector helps maintain and renew forests and ecology and backs action against illegal loggers. Waste-reducing and utilising technology and more eco-friendly treatments are also further reducing the industry’s “environmental footprint”. And, critically, certification enables timber companies to demonstrate that they do have an environmental conscience, as most always have.

In short, the timber industry can now wear its environmental record on its sleeve. Which is why we are launching an Environmental Achievement category in the TTJ Awards this year. Entries are invited from businesses which have accomplished something special in certification, and from suppliers to the sector of products and services with particular environmental benefit.

The Award itself will hopefully help emphasise further that the timber trade and environmentalist NGOs want the same thing – the proper management of forestry and exploitation of wood as a truly renewable resource.