The centrality of environmental issues to the work of the timber industry was highlighted at the last Forests Forever meeting, when the government’s timber procurement policy took centre stage.

The DEFRA official charged with developing this policy, Bob Andrew, gave a presentation on the story so far.

Forests Forever has made four points clear throughout this process. First, a more sustainable procurement regime should not discriminate against developing countries; second, the procurement process should not become so complex and intimidating that choices are made to purchase less environmentally friendly products than timber; third, the TTF has tried to strengthen the voice of the timber industry in the EU and finally it has stressed the primary importance of effective forest law enforcement in supplier countries.

Forests Forever is also making the revision of its Environmental Purchasing Policy a key feature of helping companies adapt to the changing procurement climate.

The aim of the revised policy is to make it more rigorous and credible in dealing with the sorts of questions that customers might put to their suppliers. The ultimate aim is to make timber and timber products more competitive against substitute materials that perform less well across their life cycle. Why should alternative materials get away with a far less rigorous examination of their environmental impacts than timber?

Bob Andrew will be invited to talk to all the commodity divisions over the coming months and will be speaking at our conference in September. He also confirmed Michael Meacher’s offer earlier this year to establish a working party to bring all the stakeholders in this process together to help to deliver the government’s objectives and to protect the trade’s interests.