For perhaps the third time this century, the British Isles’ home-grown wood trade faces a serious dilemma: a shortage of logs and wood! Pallet, fencing and carcassing mills are stretched by long-standing trade as well as greater demand from new markets, particularly for wood fuel.

Retaining many wise words my father spoke from the day I joined the KA Nielsen & Co family timber importing business of Kingston upon Hull in 1978, I recall the words of an act by the esteemed Arnold Laver in the postsecond world war years, printed in the national press. Mr Laver said: "Where there is no vision… the people will perish".

I have spent nearly 35 years in the wood trade and can boast being a third generation member. I have worked in most areas of the wood industry and gained extensive knowledge and experience. You could say that I have been around a variety of ‘blocks’ a few times. Although whatever I have done, I do and will do in the future, it is virtually impossible to get it absolutely right – particularly when mother nature is involved.

In February 2012, returning to the fencing industry for the third time, I was very much ‘in at the deep end’ because of the earlier storms and the massive demand for wood products. As with 2007, demand for wood was high, but mills were coping because there had been the opportunity during Q4 2011 to lay stocks down.

However, in February 2012, I, along with some other folk, were of the opinion that only a short period of time would pass before the UK sawmilling and wood trade in general would witness shortages and rising prices. The ever burgeoning hunger for wood residue and ‘cord wood’ for use in UK government subsidised, biomass-fuelled power stations would undoubtedly have an impact sooner or later.

Now the wood trade is at the end of Q1 2014. Months have flown past, as too the finished products have virtually flown through the gates. Sawmills are struggling to satisfy orders placed as far back as January (some perhaps even before). Fence panel manufacturers are quoting customer lead times between three and seven weeks. The storms of late December 2013, January and February 2014 Remain

unprecedented. Log and wood product shortages are at levels few recall from many years in the trade. Less than two years have passed since the last storms and various companies, by their own admission, have stated that they were not prepared.

The perception is that we make decisions using historical information so as to ensure we ‘get it right’ in our present and future labours. As we focus on the current situation, the shortage of logs, the high demand for sawn wood products and the consumer expectations of the 21st century, we, the wood trade should have foreseen the impact of biomass on our log supply. We are all learning an important lesson and can ill afford a repeat of it.

We can all make a difference if we work together.

To avoid the log shortage matter getting worse, we must demand government reviews the biomass subsidy policy and make changes to the log grading rules therein. Raise public awareness to the current state of the UK wood trade ("MPs misconceptions and gaps in their environmental knowledge", .

Where there is no vision… Mr Laver, did you believe the wood trade could perish?