UK forestry minister Elliot Morley was keynote speaker at our recent conference and spoke warmly of the work of the Federation, praised the introduction of our Conduct Assurance Scheme and endorsed the aims of the wood. for good campaign.

During his speech he also stressed the importance of the public sector buying its timber from legal and well-managed sources and said DEFRA is seeking ways to improve the government’s performance in the procurement of timber and timber products.

Part of this process involved a scoping study examining the way in which timber is procured. This included a recommendation to create a central ‘point of excellence’ to provide departments and their agencies with information on timber and timber products to help them implement government commitments on timber procurement.

The minister expressed the government’s concern that buyers might be tempted, despite the positive environmental and performance characteristics of timber, to choose alternative materials because of the hassle involved in buying timber. Certainly recent high profile NGO activity around timber purchased for the Cabinet Office didn’t encourage a procurement climate in favour of timber. This is something the government is keen to avoid.

Elliot Morley also highlighted the importance of educating specifiers, designers, buyers and sellers. The TTF will be looking at the viability of holding a conference bringing together public sector procurement officials with Federation members. This will enable the industry to bring itself up to speed with changes in procurement policy and enable the industry to explain some of their sourcing problems.

The government now clearly recognises that the TTF is playing a full part in the development of procurement policy, the Forest Industries Sustainability Strategy and in bilateral initiatives such as the UK/ Indonesian agreement on illegal logging.