Stacks of old pine boards (pre- Second World War), old beams (North American softwood and recycled African azobe sleepers) and Nordic construction timber are the aftermath of a housebuilding project.

Some of it will be re-used on site and hopefully some will be gratefully received by others via the wonders of freecycle or ebay.

One thing I find almost impossible to do is throw any wood away, even those cut bits that would seem of little use. Anyone else have their own timber “stashes”? But it will be a welcome change to finally get my garden back!

New developments and change are always a feature of a new year and I’m sure many companies and industry groups in the UK and global timber trade have their plans in place for 2017 which promises to be an unpredictable year, with Brexit and the pace of the construction market being key talking points.

But in the spirit of newness at the start of 2017, TTJ has a new focus area in the magazine designed to raise awareness on what is surely one of the big issues for the trade today – skills and education.

The subject has often failed to galvanise people in the past but the sense of urgency of the need to get this right has never been greater. Wherever you go people in the trade seem to talk about it as a problem, whether it’s industry qualifications, recruitment problems, the level of careers advice or company succession planning issues for businesses.

Momentum seems to be building, with the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) focusing on Skills & Education as one of its key activity strands. TTJ is backing its initiative and will cover a wide range of topics within skills and education in our new TTJ on Training (see pages 14-15) pages in the magazine. Please do get in touch if you have something to contribute, the more the trade pulls together on this vitally important issue the better the chance to bring about change for the better.

Elsewhere in TTJ this month we feature some heavyhitters, with European environment commissioner

Karmenu Vella congratulating the timber trade on its part in getting FLEGT-licensed timber to market, as well as an interview with MP Margaret Ritchie, Northern Ireland’s former housing minister and a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries, sharing her support for the timber industry’s goals.

There is also our Sector Focus on coatings, with interesting developments including, ironically, coatings to help timber copy the appearance of other materials and development of a coffee-stain proof product.