Volume, diversity and steady growth. As you can see from TTJ’s special feature this week, France’s forestry and timber industry offers all three. The country’s forest covers about 16 million ha, including the largest area of hardwoods of any country in Europe. It cultivates 128 different species and it’s growing at an estimated 60,000ha per year. Meanwhile, French hardwood and softwood sawmills produce around 10 million m³ of timber annually and export worldwide.

The statistics, I think you’ll agree, are impressive, but they’re surprisingly little known just 21 miles away in the UK. The British have long been fans of French oak, in fact the UK is its third biggest export destination. Other than that, however, the broad range of species and variety of wood products France can offer makes relatively little impact across the Channel.

But at Carrefour International du Bois we feel there’s an opportunity to change that and create an ‘entente cordiale’ between French and British timber sectors that could be a bridge over troubled trading waters.

The Carrefour is the French timber industry’s principal exhibition, held every two years in Nantes on the northern Atlantic coast – so just a hop away for UK visitors! Established 20 years ago, it has also established a reputation well beyond French borders, with its 500 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors in 2008 representing 60 different countries.

And in recent years, it has broadened its appeal further with an area dedicated to innovation in products for the fast growing timber-based construction industry.

To realise our ambition of a UK-French timber entente, we would, of course, like to see more British at the next show from June 2-4, 2010. But, underlining our commitment, we are also willing to come to you! Over the years, TTJ and the Carrefour International du Bois have been working together and are now going even further with the Carrefour sponsoring the Small Business of the Year category at the 2009 TTJ Awards. This fits us down to the ground as the majority of the companies at our exhibition are small to medium-sized. And we hope it helps further cement cross-Channel timber relations.