It’s an ill wind that blows no good and the storms that blasted the UK this week underlined the point. The umbrella industry for a start must have been rubbing its hands with glee. London was littered with the sorry carcases of everything from giant golf umbrellas to dainty designer numbers mercilessly disembowelled by the gales.

It’s early days yet, but presumably the weather will also deliver a bit of a business windfall for the fencing sector as the toll in broken panels is counted. Post-storm building repairs may also give timber an unseasonal boost. This, in turn, could help soak up surplus stocks which the UK softwood trade says still clog up its yards.

Some feel that the sort of extreme weather we’ve just had also serves as a lesson for the timber industry’s future. If, as many believe, it is a symptom of climate change, we’re likely to be in for more of the same. According to Ulrich van Roje, the German sawmiller writing our Wood Futures article this week, this could combine with globalisation of the market place and soaring wood consumption in the new economic super powers, to make trading patterns much more fluid and unpredictable. The companies that weather the new business climate best, agree Mr van Roje and traders commenting in our softwood feature, will be those that can adapt and diversify to insulate themselves against fluctuations in particular sectors.

Climate change is also set to change the way we build and that too will impact the timber industry. Sustainable development and construction are already the buzzwords and all the predictions point to these creating demand for more and a greater variety of timber and wood products.

This week Swedish environment minister Andreas Carlgren was in London to discuss co-operation in sustainable construction between Sweden and the UK – and Swedish initiatives in this field include one to boost use of wood. Highlighting the importance of the issue, Mr Carlgren flew in at the height of the storm. He was bullish about UK/Swedish collaboration, but still a tad pale.